Political Money Monitor
Free Choice for a Free People
After collecting the 218 congressional signatures necessary to override the schedule set by House leaders, a bill to increase campaign finance regulation (called the "Shays/Meehan bill") is set for a February 13 vote. The proposed regulation would ban non-candidate "soft money" donations to political parties and curtail independent political advertising just before elections.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert compared the enactment of new campaign regulations to "Armageddon." Through a spokesman, Hastert said they would shift political power to "special interest groups - big labor [and] environmental groups." Possible Republican strategies may include an array of amendments to make the bill more acceptable or a complete replacement with language focusing on greater disclosure rules rather than fundraising prohibitions. Significant amendment or replacement of the existing Shays-Meehan bill could potentially cause enough conflict with the Senate version that a compromise never makes it out of the House-Senate conference committee for the President to sign.
As proposed, the Shays-Meehan regulations would take effect 30 days after becoming law. This poses a problem for Democrats who support the bill. Representative Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, boasted: "We want it this year - we're ready for it this year, the Democrats aren't. We have the hard dollars on hand, the Democrats don't." Uneasy Democrats are expected to try to push back enforcement until 2003.
An executive order requiring federal contractors to inform their employees of their right not to join a labor union or pay union dues for political activities was struck down by a federal judge.
Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling on January 2 that struck down Executive Order 13201, which was issued by President George W. Bush on February 17, 2001. It went into effect on April 18, 2001. Within two weeks, three unions filed a lawsuit to block the order. EO 13201 was similar to an order issued by President George H.W. Bush in late 1992 and repealed by President Bill Clinton in early 1993.
When enforced, EO 13201 required federal contractors to inform their employees of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1988 decision in Communications Workers of America v. Beck. The Beck decision ruled that workers choosing not to join a union cannot be required to pay dues for expenses not related to collective bargaining, contract arbitration and grievance adjustment. The decision also established that workers objecting to having a portion of their dues spent on political action could request and recieve a refund. Under EO 13201, federal contractors not in compliance with the order faced the cancellation of federal contracts and prohibition from future contracts.
In his decision, Judge Kennedy said EO 13201 is invalid because it is overridden by the National Labor Relations Act. A Labor Department spokesman told the Daily Labor Report: "We're disappointed, but we will appeal the ruling on behalf of workers who deserve to be informed of their rights."
Campaign Finance Factoids
Washington Union Begins Issuing Political Refunds
In late January, the Washington Education Association (WEA) began sending $50 checks to approximately 4,000 non-union teachers in the state who are required to pay union "agency fees." In August of 2001, a state judge found the union guilty of violating a "paycheck protection" law protecting teachers from having mandatory fees spent on politics without their approval. Bob Williams, the president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation - which filed suit against the WEA over this practice - said, "Teachers can't be forced to make political contributions against their will."
Common Cause Violates Laws It Promotes
Do as I say and not as I do. Common Cause/New York lobbyist Rachel Leon recently failed to file a registration report with state authorities as required by state law. The report, detailing an organization's lobbying expenses, is the kind of provision normally supported by Common Cause. The report was eventually filed, 191 days late. The group's $1,000 fine was its second such offense in two years.
Oklahomans passed a right-to-work referendum giving workers the choice to not join a labor union last September despite being outspent two-to-one by union opposition. How? Connie Marshner of the Free Congress Foundation says that it was "freedom, grassroots coalitions and personal contact with the voters." After losing legislatively 15 times since 1964, the campaign effectively took the issue to the citizens and received the support of national pro-freedom organizations with a presence in Oklahoma.