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Powerful Union Boss Accused Of Campaign Violations

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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The chairman of the New York State Republican Party accused a powerful union leader of violating campaign laws.

GOP chairman Ed Cox filed a complaint with the New York State Board of Elections Wednesday charging that powerful union official Bob Master is engaging in illegal campaign coordination, according to an Albany Times Union report.

Master, political director of the Communication Workers of America District 1, also runs New Yorkers Together, a union-backed group that is supporting two Democratic state Senate candidates on Long Island, Ryan Cronin and Jim Gaughran.

Master is also the state co-chair of the Working Families Party (WFP), which endorsed the same two Senate candidates. WFP is being paid by the candidate campaigns for professional services. Master is also treasurer of a third organization, a political action committee that has also donated directly to the two Democrats. Master’s work with the three groups is centered on helping the two Democrats defeat their Republican opponents, Sen. Kemp Hannon and Sen. Carl Marcellino.

Cox alleges that Master is breaking the law by running an independent expenditure campaign (New Yorkers Together) while simultaneously serving as a top official in a political party (WFP) that is directly working with state Senate candidates.

The Communication Workers District 1 says that the allegations of illegal coordination are “factually and legally baseless,” according to a Times Union report.

“Master has no involvement with the Working Families Party’s activities in connection with any state Senate elections and the WFP has not authorized him to act on its behalf in any of those elections,” the union said.

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that independent expenditure committees, known as “super PACs,” can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals, and spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. However, states can prohibit the groups from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns, which is something New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fought to pass.

Gov. Cuomo signed legislation in August that strengthened campaign-finance law in New York. The measure was passed at the end of the legislative session, with little attention at the time. Election lawyer Sarah Steiner, told the Albany Times Union that the situation deserves further examination.

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