Richard Logan, president of the Oakland (California) Black Firefighters Association, believes his local union leaders often engage in actions that work against the interests of the people they are supposed to represent. To combat this problem, he is using his authority as southwestern director of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters to recommend that San Francisco area black firefighters associations secede from the Local 55 chapter.
"Part of the union dues we pay go to support candidates at the national, local and state level," Logan told the San Francisco Chronicle. "One of the problems that African American [firefighters] have across the country is that local unions take that money and use it to support candidates that hurt minorities and women." Recently, Local 55 leaders endorsed Oakland City Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente's campaign for mayor. Members do not necessarily oppose de la Fuente as much as resent the fact that they were unable to provide input on the endorsement decision.
On another occasion, union members sponsored a circus that raised $20,000 for charity. They later discovered that Darrell Reese, a political consultant hired by union heads, arranged for $16,000 of the money they raised to be spent to defeat a local bond measure. Reese said this political activity can be considered a public charity since, in the eyes of the union leadership, it benefited the community. Logan is advising members to seek out ticket-buyers in hopes of filing a class-action suit against the union for raising money under false pretenses.
In June, a ballot initiative to require labor unions to receive annual written permission from union members before using mandatory dues for state and local political activities will appear on the state's primary election ballot.
On January 23, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton (D) testified for five hours before a grand jury investigating whether or not his 1995 campaign violated state spending limits. If he is found to have knowingly circumvented these limits, he could he removed from office.
The 1995 election was Kentucky's first to be held under the auspices of a 1992 state law that provided candidates with $1.2 million in state funds on the condition that campaign spending be limited to $1.8 million per candidate. Patton defeated Republican opponent Larry Forgy by a slim 21,560-vote margin. Republicans later filed a complaint alleging that the Patton campaign coordinated election efforts with the Teamsters and AFL-CIO labor unions and the A. Philip Randolph Foundation - a black voter education group financed by organized labor - to knowingly exceed spending limits.
An investigation of the alleged improprieties began in April of 1996, and a grand jury was seated a year later. So far, the grand jury has heard from 72 witnesses, including Governor Patton, Forgy, former campaign operatives and organized labor leaders. Many were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony.
Campaign Finance Factoids Monica Lewinsky Helps Democrat Fundraising
Controversy sparked by alleged presidential mistress Monica Lewinsky appears to be having a positive effect on Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraising. According to an AP report on the party's telemarketing, "[DNC] Chairman Steve Grossman said the average pledge rate was $28.35 the day before the allegations were made public [January 20], and it dropped to $25.13 two days later. The average pledge had jumped to $30.21 Tuesday [January 27]." This was the highest single day since the campaign began in mid-January. The Republican National Committee reports no change in the rates of return on their fundraising.
John Glenn: Scuttled Hearings for Shuttle Ride?
Alcestis Oberg, a freelance writer who covers the space program, wrote in USA Today that the selection of 76-year-old Senator John Glenn (D-OH) to ride the space shuttle "was a done deal when Glenn played his most shameful role: obstructor in chief of the Senate's investigation into scandalous Clinton/Gore campaign wrongdoings." Speculating the shuttle has become "the orbital equivalent of the Lincoln bedroom," Oberg debunked NASA's claim that Glenn would be used to study the effects of space travel on the elderly since "NASA has given the push to virtually every astronaut who has reached the age of 60 - and has never shown any interest in weightlessness and the aging process before."
Report to Say Clinton Broke Campaign Laws
Reuters quotes a source familiar with the soon-to-be-released majority report from the Senate Government Affairs Committee's hearings on 1996 campaign irregularities saying the report "will say Clinton personally controlled [Democratic National Committee] spending in the 1996 election campaign." Allegations that President Clinton broke the law stem from testimony saying he personally directed party spending in 1996. White House videotapes also show him telling donors that party funds were used to air television ads that boosted his ratings. Political parties are prohibited from using "soft money" donations to promote specific candidates.
Political Money Monitor is published by The National Center for Public Policy Research to provide information on campaign finance and political choice issues. Coverage of an event or article in Political Money Monitor does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Copyright 1998 The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of articles in Political Money Monitor are permitted provided source is credited. ###
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