Political Money Monitor #16: May 22, 1998

Contents* Proposition 226 Campaign Gets Dirty
* Congress Waiting for Proposition 226 Results
* High “Business Community” Political Spending Debunked
* AFL-CIO Official Endorses “Black Militancy” Conference 

Proposition 226 Campaign Gets Dirty; False Allegations Abound in “Paycheck Protection” DebateWith less than two weeks until the California primary, opponents of the paycheck protection Proposition 226 are being caught spreading misleading information about the ballot initiative. While supporters insist it will simply protect workers’ wages from being spent on politics without their permission, critics – organized labor in particular – falsely claim it will hurt everything from public safety to donations to charity.

Last week, the United Way of America retracted a “legislative alert” claiming Proposition 226 might affect charitable giving. United Way officials blamed its release on inexperienced staffers, and said the initiative would have “no bearing on voluntary charitable contributions.” They also warned that continued use of the report in the campaign could result in legal action.

Californians are also receiving telephone calls from people asserting that Proposition 226 will endanger police officers. The callers claim the initiative will give public access to employee records, allowing revenge-seeking criminals to find officers’ home addresses. Three California laws, however, specifically protect the release of personal information of law enforcement officials.

An interesting aspect of these calls is that callers said they were calling from phone banks in Florida, Nebraska and Oklahoma. A chief allegation of Proposition 226 opponents is that supporters are relying on out-of-state assistance.

“The desperate strategy employed by the anti-226 campaign is to talk about anything buy returning control of union expenditures to union members,” said Yes of 226! Chief of Staff Ron Nehring.

Congress Waiting for Proposition 226 Results; Paycheck Protection, Free Speech to Guide Reform DebateA third debate on campaign finance reform began in Congress on May 21 with a dozen bills and an unprecedented 586 amendments under consideration so far. No votes are expected until early June.

Congressional supporters of paycheck protection hope a Proposition 226 victory in California’s June 2 primary will provide the momentum to pass similar federal legislation. The initiative would require employers and labor unions to obtain worker permission to use payroll deductions for political activity.

Many congressmen are concerned increased campaign regulation, like a ban on “issue advocacy” advertising and further limits on contributions and spending, threatens Americans’ right to unrestricted political speech. Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) told CongressDaily, “Money is not the root of all evil in politics [it] is the lifeblood of politics.” He is a member of the “Free Speech Coalition,” which is offering amendments requiring the Federal Election Commission to issue the least restrictive regulations possible, increase enforcement of current laws and toend public funding of campaigns. Focusing on the current fundraising scandal, they also seek to ban fundraising on Air Force One and other government property and in places of worship.

By intentionally bucking perceived reform efforts, members of the Coalition are putting principle before political safety. Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) told Roll Call, “I do worry about [a backlash] in my district, but I have to do what I think is the right thing to do.” Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO), on the other hand, said, “This case will speak for itself, and we may come across helpful changes in the law because of it.”

Campaign Finance Factoids
High “Business Community” Political Spending Report DebunkedUnion leaders often cite a figure from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) that the “business community” outspent organized labor in political contributions by a factor of 11 to 1 in 1996. They use this as a justification for the continued use of mandatory union dues for political activity. An analysis by the Claremont Institute, however, casts doubt on CRP’s claim. Almost half of the contributions CRP attributed to business were found to actually be donations made by individuals who listed their occupations as business-related. In an Investor’s Business Daily commentary, Claremont Institute Director of Research Glenn Ellmers noted, “individuals give money to political campaigns for a thousand reasons, many (e.g. pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gun) having nothing to do with business. Should all those contributions simply be lumped into a ‘business’ agenda?'” CRP also included professional associations like the American Association of Trial Lawyers – a group often at odds with the goals of the business community – among business contributors. Ellmers said, “including trial lawyers with the business community is like counting the fox with the chickens.”

AFL-CIO Official Endorses “Black Militancy” ConferenceAFL-CIO Education Secretary Bill Fletcher recently shattered the misconception that the union’s leadership only endorses candidates and causes of the Democratic Party. According to the San Francisco Bay View, Fletcher has joined with the Communist Party USA, former Communist Party vice presidential candidate Angela Davis and others to endorse the Black Radical Congress in Chicago on June 19. The View reports the goal of the Congress is “to revive and to rebuild the spirit of Black militancy and social justice.”


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