Some folks have been trying to make political hay with the easy availability of union financial information. As noted in an earlier post, however, The Wall Street Journal’s methodology in “discovering” the levels of labor union spending was fatally flawed and painted a false (and politically advantageous) picture.
And now Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads, a Republican super PAC, is using ridiculous fictions to try to defend the activities of the Karl Rove-backed group, claiming that the hundreds of millions of dollars that American Crossroads will spend on the election will somehow be dwarfed by what unions will spend.
In an attempt to deflect attention away from the blatant attempts of American Crossroads and other right-wing super PACs to buy elections, Law claims that “neither side will have a financial advantage” in the presidential race that’s expected to break campaign finance records. Law says “groups on the left” tend to outspend right-wing and Republican interests, so “just achieving parity for us or something like that, hopefully even a small financial superiority to us is success.”
Really? That’s some interesting math, Mr. Law.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, unions spent $85.9 million on the presidential election in 2008 for independent expenditures and electioneering communications, while conservative groups spent $244.1 million. Even before the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruling, unions were still vastly outspent.
Since January 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court enabled unlimited independent spending by any group on elections, the disparity between what unions spend and what conservative groups spend has only grown. In 2010, unions spent $51.7 million, while conservative groups spent $260.7 million, in independent expenditures and electioneering communications. In 2012, the disparity in outside spending has grown even more, with unions having spent $9.4 million so far while Crossroads GPS [a 501(c)(4) group that doesn’t disclose its donors] alone has spent at least $85.6 million and American Crossroads has spent $11.6 million for a grand total of $97.3 million.
That means that Law’s organization alone has outspent working people by a more than 10-to-1 margin so far in the 2012 election.
Steven Law and his buddies might try to argue that by excluding direct contributions in these numbers, we’re excluding a hefty part of union spending. But keep in mind, direct contributions from unions cannot come from their general treasuries, but only through voluntary PAC contributions from their members separate from dues. But if those donations are included in the calculation, it is only then fair to include direct contributions from corporate PACs and corporate executives, which highlights the disparity even more.
No matter how you cut it, businesses and corporate "fat cats" are outspending ordinary working people and their unions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “[w]hatever slice you look at, business interests dominate, with an overall advantage over organized labor of about 15-to-1,” and last week alone, pro-Romney super PACS spent nearly six times as much as pro-Obama PACs.
Clearly, Karl Rove’s lackey doesn’t want the people to know how much those wealthy one-percenters are outspending ordinary working people in the election. Otherwise, people might contact their local unions to figure out how they can help to get out the vote this fall to beat back that 1% money with good old-fashioned people power at the polls.
Hey, Steven Law, your pants are on fire!
Despite the big money in this election, regular working people can make a difference—people power is the one thing that can beat money power. You can stand up to the money avalanche by volunteering with your local union, central labor council or Workers’ Voice for neighborhood canvasses, phone banks and other actions—and you can help make sure voting rights are protected for all by visiting the AFL-CIO's My Vote, My Right site here.