David A. Patten - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that at least one out of every five campaign dollars received by the 14 Wisconsin Democratic senators who have fled the state to protect union influence came from public-sector workers and their labor representatives.
“We have interests, and because of that we attempt to support candidates who support our interests,” Richard Abelson of the wisconsin,democrats,unions,donations,campaignDistrict Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), told the newspaper in response to the report.
The Journal Sentinel bases the report on records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a watchdog group that tracks money in politics.
According to that report, the 14 AWOL Democrats who have fled the state to avoid voting on whether to restrict the collective bargaining power of public-employee unions raised $1.9 million in campaign dollars since 2007.
Of that total, union and public-sector employee donated at least $344,000 to them, the newspaper reports. And the actual total could be much higher, according to the newspaper, because the occupations of those donating less than $100 go unspecified.
The newspaper reports that one Democratic senator, Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee, received about two-thirds of his campaign dollars from public-sector workers and their unions.
“What do you expect?” Coggs said, when asked about that level of support. “I’m a labor guy.”
Supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker say the influence of public-sector unions must be constrained because in addition to their collective bargaining activities unions have a direct influence on who gets elected. Allowing politicians to set benefits for public employees and the unions, which in turn provide campaign donations to them, invites a conflict of interest, they say.
In addition, the Journal Sentinel reports that the AFSCME and the SEIU national unions donated over $1.3 million to liberal advocacy organizations in Wisconsin, which promote Democratic candidates.