Not that this development is much of a surprise, but it’s pleasing to see that Suzy Khimm, a journalist for the left-leaning Mother Jones, is being honest about who’s taking advantage of the recent loosening of campaign finance rules:
After the Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous Citizens United decision in January, many legal and political observers warned the ruling would unleash a torrent of corporate cash into American elections. President Barack Obama decried the decision as “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” Just as predicted, campaign ads that would previously have been illegal are now airing in key midterm election races. But the players funding those ads aren’t the ones you might expect. It turns out that some of the first groups to exploit Citizens United aren’t corporations, but labor unions.
In recent weeks, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the AFL-CIO have begun to use the new Citizens United rules to promote their preferred candidates in closely fought contests, such as Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas’ Democratic Senate primary, and the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, which Democrat Mark Critz won in mid-May. In a television ad that started airing late last month, AFSCME whacked Lincoln for moving her family permanently to Washington and taking money from corporate interests. “Blanche Lincoln packed up and left us years ago. Maybe it’s time for us to send her packing, for good,” the ad concludes.
Of course, the article has an AFL-CIO spokesman saying all this unrestricted campaign spending is ok because unions better than corporations because they “actually represent members who pay their dues, representing working people.” Over at NRO, Stephen Spruiell comments:
Why should workers enjoy more freedom of speech in the political arena than the shareholders who employ them? I can’t think of a single fair or coherent reason for the disparate treatment.