Political Money Monitor #7: January 16, 1998

Contents* Labor Agenda Driven By Campaign Considerations
* FEC Survey Shows Strong Support for Electronic Filing
* UPS Fined for Involuntary Atmosphere of PAC Involvement
* California Initiative Gets Another County Endorsement 

Labor Agenda Driven By Campaign Considerations; Anticipated Clinton Regulations and Reappointment Favor Organized Labor In Attempt to Secure Labor’s Political CashDavid L. Thompson of the Business Leadership Council, in a January 13 Washington Times commentary, charged that the White House is pushing labor union-advocated policies at the expense of the nation’s economy “in order to buy friends and influence union political behavior.” He further said “President Clinton must affirmatively give away the farm within the next two months if he is to open the feeding troughs known as union political money at which most Democratic candidates will feed this year.”

Mr. Thompson cites two anticipated actions meant to secure labor largess:

  • At the AFL-CIO’s Executive Meeting in February of 1997, Vice President Al Gore proposed regulations to “blacklist” federal contractors and subcontractors found violating – or even suspected of violating – labor law. If enacted, these regulations could give labor bosses enormous power over the $200 billion in federal contracts awarded each year that employ approximately one-fifth of the American workforce. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has already threatened Avondale Shipbuilding with the loss of their federal contracts if they do not unionize, and false accusations against companies that could provoke a blacklisting are already common union negotiating tactics.
  • Another way the President can open labor coffers is to reappoint National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Fred Feinstein to another four-year term. Citing the threefold increase in the use of injuctions against employers during Mr. Feinstein’s tenure, Mr. Thompson called him “the most biased general counsel in history” who is in a position “where the unions can actually change law despite Republican control of Congress.” He added that the “reappointment of Fred Feinstein. . . would secure union dominance of labor law enforcement well into the next presidential term.”

In 1996, organized labor spent over $100 million supporting Democrats.


FEC Survey Shows Strong Support for Electronic Filing; Doolittle Bill Mandating Immediate Filings Could BenefitResults of a survey commissioned by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to study the popularity and viability of electronic filings of campaign contributions “underscores the high level of computerization and the positive attitude that most FEC filers have toward the electronic filing of disclosure reports.” These findings provide positive momentum for California Congressman John Doolittle’s proposed legislation to require immediate electronic filings and public postings at a time when Congress is gearing up to revisit the issue of campaign finance reform.

According to the FEC, “bottom-line results of the survey indicate that the filing community has the basic infrastructure to take advantage of a voluntary electronic filing program for campaign disclosure reports, and there is a general positive attitude about filing reports to the FEC in that manner.” Seventy percent of respondents said they thought electronic filing would save time and money.

Congressman Doolittle’s “Citizen Legislature and Political Freedom Act” (HR 965), while abolishing contribution limits, mandates all contributions be electronically filed with the FEC within 24 hours of receipt to be immediately posted on the internet. The bill is currently in the House Oversight and Ways and Means Committees, and staffers say they expect hearings early this year.

Hoover Institution Senior Research Fellow Annalise Anderson recently wrote that “the U.S. experience with limiting expenditures in presidential campaigns shows what happens when campaign expenditures are capped and direct contributions are limited: the money flows elsewhere, to places where it can be more freely given and more freely spent.” She added, “full and timely disclosure is the best way to deal with the potentially corrupting effect of political money – and with today’s internet technology, that information should be available to everyone without charge.”


Campaign Finance FactoidsUPS Fined for Involuntary Atmosphere of PAC InvolvementUnited Parcel Service (UPS) has been fined $9,000 by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for failing to make it clear to company management that managers are not required to donate to the company’s political action committee (PAC) in order to remain in good standing with the head office. This is the first time the FEC has levied such a penalty against an employer. UPS – which runs the largest business PAC in America – has agreed to pay the fine, and will explicitly inform employees in the future that all PAC contributions are strictly voluntary.


California Initiative Gets Another County EndorsementCalifornia’s “Campaign Reform Initiative” (CRI), which recently qualified for the state’s primary ballot this coming June, received the unanimous endorsement of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on January 13th. The CRI would prohibit employer or labor union-mandated payroll deductions for state or local political activity unless prior approval is given by affected employees on an annual basis. It also bans foreign contributions to state and local political campaigns. Commenting on the vote, CRI co-author Jim Righeimer said, “The Imperial County Board of Supervisors realize the necessity for campaign reform, and their endorsement shows the CRI is the way to go.”


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