August 20, 2012

Dog Bites Man: Unions are Top Spenders in RI Politics

Marc Comtois

GoLocalProv's Dan McGowan has the surprising news that organized labor Political Action Committees have led the way in political spending this year:

The majority of the Laborer’s Political League’s spending has gone to the organization’s voluntary fund in Washington D.C., but the PAC has made $1,000 max-out contributions to Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, Senator Frank Ciccone and former Providence Mayor and City Council President John Lombardi, who is now challenging State Rep. Michael Tarro.

The NEA has spent $43,795.83, although that amount includes the approximately $2,700 the union spends on rent and utilities each month. The NEA’s PAC has made $1,000 contributions to Clean Water Action, Ocean State Action, State Rep. Spencer Dickinson, State Rep. candidates Gregg Amore and Mike Morin and State Senate candidates Adam Satchell, Dave Gorman and Lew Pryeor. The influential union has also contributed to each of the 16 lawmakers who voted against the state’s pension reform efforts last year (the 17th lawmakers – Senator John Tassoni is not running for re-election).

Third on the list is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which has spent $28,419.99 this year. The IBEW pays Providence Central Labor Council president Paul MacDonald approximately $1,666 each month for “consultant and professional services” and has contributed at least $300 to Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, Senate President Paiva-Weed, House Speaker Gordon Fox, Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello, House Finance chairman Helio Melo, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Senate Finance chairman Daniel DaPonte.

Remember those names when collective bargaining issues arise. And note that the Labor PACs send money to other, mostly progressive/liberal, PACs, too. It's a big network of PACs. Heck, if you put them all together, you could almost call it....a SUPER PAC, or something.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

" if you put them all together, you could almost call it....a SUPER PAC, or something."


Posted by: Monique at August 20, 2012 12:23 PM

I've been trying to bring attention to this fact for years on this blog and RIFuture, but people can't be bothered to simply look at the campaign finance reports to which I link. They'd much rather perpetuate the myth that "the corporations" control Rhode Island politics. Well guess what - Big Labor outspends all of them in this state and the data is right there for anyone to see. The obvious question that progressives and apologists can't answer is why these unions give so much money to politicians year after year if it hasn't had an impact on policy. I guess they are in the habit of throwing their members' money away.

Also, it might be interesting to look into whether the Rhode Island unions, and specifically the NEA, have been at all involved in funding RIFuture, as one commenter there recently suggested. If true, that would raise some serious questions about the integrity of the reporting on union issues that goes on there.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2012 1:58 PM

I used to belong to a railroad union in CA. Roughly 60% of the membership was either Republican or independent. 100% of the union dues allocated for political purposes went to Dems. Figure the math. The union leadership(s) are bought and sold liberal. Corruption at the top of the "unions" runs deep.....right into the sewer.

Posted by: ANTHONY at August 20, 2012 2:15 PM

ANTHONY - I don't blame the membership in "closed shop" states like Rhode Island. There is little that any one member can do about a corrupt regulatory scheme that forces people to join and fund these organizations against their will. I do, however, blame anyone who actively supports the back-room quid-pro-quo political practices of their unions or otherwise defends the reprehensible status quo.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2012 2:31 PM

Just for the record Dan the union in CA was closed shop as are all railroad jobs on class I RR's. I had zero luck in getting the leadership to listen. You should see some of their publications and political cartoons.....a 4th grader could write a more thought provoking one. I kid you not.

Posted by: ANTHONY at August 20, 2012 3:04 PM

I feel very fortunate to live in a right-to-work state that allows me to make my own decisions about which organizations I would like to join and financially support, which you would think would be a fundamental right in this country. There is a union at my workplace that wanted $500/year in dues from me. I told them no. My significant other started a new job today and the union in her workplace wanted $600/year in dues from her. She told them no. That's $1100 per year saved by our household alone. The simple option of saying no is a wonderful thing, especially if you don't want the lifetime equivalent of a downpayment on a house going to an organization you don't particularly care for. It would sicken me to have my money being taken from me by force and funneled to politicians I would vote against. Rhode Island politicians and unions feel that their fellow citizens should not be able to make their own decisions in this regard, and that's morally wrong.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2012 3:51 PM
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