FEC allows SEIU's illegal political fund-raising scheme
September 3, 2010
Imagine the outcry if McDonalds executives demanded that franchise owners collect “voluntary” contributions totaling $25,000 for the company’s Political Action Committee (PAC) from employees at every restaurant.
What if the fast food titan’s headquarters followed up with a threat - pay us, or face a $37,500 fine? Do you think this heavy-handed scheme would raise a few eyebrows at the Federal Election Commission (FEC)?
Replace “McDonalds” with “SEIU” in that description and you’ve got a pretty good idea of Big Labor’s latest political fundraising strategy. To meet their ambitious fundraising targets, Service Employees International Union bosses are now threatening to fine any local affiliate that doesn’t meet its PAC contribution requirements.
The only problem with this racket is that FEC guidelines explicitly prohibit organizations from collecting PAC funds by threatening members with financial reprisals. SEIU bosses aren’t exactly hiding their intentions, either – they actually wrote this fundraising provision into the union’s constitution at their annual convention.
If McDonalds had the nerve to collect contributions from employees using similar threats, you can bet the FEC would be all over the case. The SEIU, however, seems to have gotten away scot-free.
After SEIU bosses announced their new policy, the National Right to Work Foundation filed a formal complaint with the FEC. Foundation attorneys argued that the union’s new constitutional provision coerces political campaign contributions from employees.
Although the FEC dismissed the Foundation’s complaint in April, Foundation attorneys were only notified of the decision 23 days after the fact. Adding insult to injury, the FEC finally got around to releasing the reasoning behind its dismissal in August, 111 days after the original decision was made.
Coincidentally, all FEC appeals must be filed within 60 days of any ruling. By delaying its announcement and only releasing its reasoning until well after the window period had expired, the FEC effectively made it impossible to appeal the decision to federal court.
Meanwhile, Big Labor’s massive fundraising apparatus continues to churn. Fueled by threats and forced-dues dollars from workers across the country, SEIU bosses have already become one of the biggest power-brokers in Washington, doling out money and favors to hand-picked candidates.
In 2008 alone, the SEIU spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect President Obama and other pro-forced unionism politicians. Now that the FEC has legitimized this latest scheme, its political influence will only continue to spread.
But payback is a two-way street, and SEIU operatives expect a handsome return on their investment. Obama has already signed a series of pro-Big Labor executive orders, including one directing federal tax dollars to union-only projects and another ending the practice of posting notices informing workers of their right to cut off union dues spent on Big Labor’s political activism.
Meanwhile, Obama’s latest appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, an organization charged with overseeing American labor law, worked as a top SEIU lawyer before he joined the presidential transition team. Unsurprisingly, in just a short few months on the job, he has already pushed to eliminate independent audits for union expenditures.
The DISCLOSE Act, a bill being pushed in Congress that would require political organizations to release the names of top donors, features yet another Big Labor carve-out. Prompted by union operatives, Obama and the Democrats have largely exempted unions from the bill’s disclosure requirements, but other activist groups are out of luck.
Naturally, the same FEC that refuses to look into the SEIU’s shady fundraising tactics would be responsible for implementing DISCLOSE if it passes.
The FEC’s antics reveal what should have been obvious as soon as Big Labor’s money started pouring into Obama’s campaign coffers: Under Obama, the union bosses have effectively bought themselves immunity from any laws that get in the way of their massive forced-dues money-making machine.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/OpEd-Contributor/...