Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do Public-Employee Unions Have Major Influence in California Politics?

With the recent turmoil in the Wisconsin public-employee union debate, it begs the question here in California: Do public-employee unions have undue influence over the political process?

A March 2010 report from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), titled Big Money Talks: The 15 Special Interests that Spent $1 Billion to Shape California Government seems to provide evidence of the undue influence of public sector unions in California politics.

The relevant information appears on page 10, in a table titled "The 15 That Spent $1 Billion to Influence California Voters and Public Officials." The data is shown below and available online here.

The minimum entry price for an organization was $34 million. The top spender, California Teachers Association (CTA), spent over $211 million.

Charting the data, the imbalance becomes quickly obvious. The two top senders in California politics are both public-sector unions. California Teachers Association (CTA) is by far and above the largest spender, spending nearly twice that of the next biggest spender, California State Council of Service Employees (SEIU).

(click image to enlarge)

Likewise, charting the spending by the type of organization, again, an obvious pattern appears. According to FPPC data, roughly thirty cents of every dollar spent by the big spenders in California politics comes from the two major California public-sector unions. And where do the unions get all that money? From employee's state-mandated union dues, essentially paid by California taxpayers. With whom do these public-sector unions bargain for their salary and benefits? With many of the same Legislators placed in office courtesy of generous campaign funding from labor. Am I the only one that sees the inherent conflict of interest?

As an aside, I'm also amazed by the spending from California's native American tribes, apparently related to casino gaming.

See also ...

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