This year saw the most expensive election in US history, but who spent the most money may surprise you – it was public unions:
With the close of the 2010 election campaign, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reached a new spending record, pouring $87 million into this congressional election.
AFSCME’s $87 million is greater than the campaign spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($75 million) and American Crossroads ($65 million). Other public-sector unions, such as the Service Employees International Union ($44 million) and the National Education Association ($40 million) also ratcheted up their campaign spending.
I’ve long considered it a conflict of interest to have employees paid by tax dollars be allowed to use their union dues (provided by tax dollars) go to political campaigns. Here’s why:
In the 2010 election cycle, AFSCME donated 99.5 percent of contributions to Democrats; the National Education Association donated 96 percent; and the American Federation of Teachers donated 99.7 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
These dues are being funneled to Democratic politicians who promise to raise workers’ salaries higher and hire more public sector workers — even though Labor Department data show that compensation for federal and state workers is higher than for private-sector workers.
Government workers have access to elected officials during negotiations to set wages and benefits, and can hold the promise of campaign contributions over these politicians during negotiations.
That means higher compensation for government workers, higher taxes, and higher budget deficits. The taxes go from the electorate to government paychecks to union dues — then to more campaign contributions.
I have no issue if a government employee wants to contribute to a campaign individually, but using their union dues collectively as they have is a gross conflict of interest when it creates tension between public employees and our elected representatives. Public employees work for the American people, and as such, their union dues should not be used to support partisan politics one way or the other. Need another example?
Moreover, AFSCME contributions do not just come from state and local taxpayers. Roughly $160 billion of federal stimulus funds went to save jobs of state and local workers.
Stimulating campaign spending isn’t what the American taxpayer had in mind. Increasing the deficit so tax payer money can support partisan politics is wrong, no matter what party you support. This practice needs to stop, not because public employees shouldn’t have a say in elections, but because it is a conflict of interest to have their paychecks and union dues provided by the tax payer being used to lobby against tax payers’ interests. You can be sure that if tax payer money was being used like this to support Republicans, this practice would be stopped immediately.