Politics

Union Bosses Stand Against Dark Money, Except When It Benefits Them

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A prominent union critic is calling out some of the most powerful union bosses in the country for condemning undisclosed political contributions while also using them.

Corporations and unions alike can make undisclosed contributions, known as dark money, to authorized nonprofits. Union Facts Executive Director Richard Berman, however, notes union bosses are being hypocrites because they condemn the practice. Critics in general often argue undisclosed political contributions hurts the election process.

“Democrats claim it’s corrupting the political system and helping Republicans to boot,” Berman writes in an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner. “But they’re happy to play ball if it benefits approved left-wing causes.”

Dark money contributions can’t go directly to a political candidate. The nonprofits, though, can advocate on behalf of a candidate or politician. The contributions also have no limits. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten among other have all condemned the practice for undermining democracy by allowing corporations to buy out elections.

“Yet labor unions send tens of millions of dollars to liberal advocacy groups closely aligned with the Democratic Party each year,” Berman continues. “Many of which aren’t required by law to disclose their donors and choose not to”

What’s worse, as Berman points out, much of what unions contribute is forcibly taken. In half of all states unions can require workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. Workers can leave the union but are still required to pay what is known as a fair-share fee. The fee cannot be spent on politics but it’s often difficult to track.

Union Facts estimates national unions spent almost $140 million in dark money contributions in 2014 alone at about 99 percent as political advocacy expenditures. In total contributions, some unions have spent a few hundred million through the years, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.

The piece also points to Democrat operative David Brock and Media Matters as hypocrites for condemning dark money. AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and Media Matters did not respond to request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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