LOS ANGELES, October 14, 2013 — California’s unions have positioned themselves for a perpetual power grab against the political parties. To this end, they are attempting to achieve a stranglehold on political contributions, making their money the most important money that either party can receive.
The dead hand of government dependency weighs heavy on California’s politics. California’s Democrats have nearly obliterated the Republicans on their triumphant march to a welfare state. This is dangerous for the unions, whose support of Democrats is unnecessary if Democrats face no organized opposition. They are therefore uniting to prop up the GOP and keep the war going. Giving money to the GOP helps prevent a Democratic political monopoly, holding the Republicans up as a threat to Democratic power that will never actually materialize.
So why would the California GOP sell out to the Service Employees International Union – the SEIU?
On October 4-6, 2013, the California Republican Party (CRP or CAGOP) held its Fall Convention at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel. This year’s theme, under the direction of newly elected Chairman Jim Brulte, was “Building from the ground up.”
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This year, the CRP Fall Convention set the tone for big changes in the Party. But do these changes include partnership with the SEIU? Has California’s GOP sold itself by taking money from SEIU?
California Republicans continue to decline. The number of voter registrations fell statewide to below 30 percent. People are not joining the party; zero to slow growth makes all the party’s existing problems worse.
Republicans hold no statewide offices in California. Their numbers in the California State Assembly are too small to have any meaningful impact on legislation. California is essentially a one-party state.
Given that situation, those in attendance at the GOP’s Fall Convention were stunned at Brulte’s announcement that the Party’s 7-figure debt had been paid off. Even more stunning was the news of who paid it: the SEIU.
What did that cost the California Republicans?
Brulte began his CAGOP debt removal strategy just this year. When he took over the party, he called his job “more like a bankruptcy workout.” At the time, he put the Party’s debt as high as $800,000.
On June 9, 2011, The Blaze Reported that SEIU California officials had launched a Republican political action committee. Their goal is to support candidates from right-leaning areas to Sacramento who put practical solutions to solve problems above strict conservative thinking.
“Our legislators are harangued by radio talk show hosts like John and Ken and D.C. ideologues like Grover Norquist,” said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721 in Southern California.
Schoonover, a registered Republican, said lawmakers are afraid to do the right thing. “We’ve lost the art of compromise that allows us to make deals in tough times,” he said
On June 10, 2011, News PopZero blog asked questions about the potential issues with SEUI’s objective. For starters, “the union likely will try to discourage Democrats from running in that district. Instead, the union will back a moderate Republican — and ask Democratic voters to do the same — in hopes that the moderate can advance to the general election and defeat whatever conservative Republican candidate emerges in a Republican district.”
In a story titled “Teachers union, SEIU open wallets to California Republican Party,” the Sacramento Bee reported that in recent weeks the California Teachers Association PAC donated $10,000 to the California GOP, SEIU Local 1000 donated $15,000, and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association donated another $3,000. Representatives of all three of these powerful public sector unions attended CRP’s Fall 2013 Convention, and some members welcomed them with open arms.
Chairman Brulte has taken charge by raising money faster than the last two chairmen, Tom Del Beccaro and Ron Nehring. The CRP has raised over $3.0 million so far this year and is on a fast track to total financial recovery.
As a proportion of total public sector union funds, the donations to California’s GOP are not large. The CTA has 325,000 members who on average pay well over $1,000 per year in dues. The CTA spends about 30 percent of its funds on political activities, or about $100 million per year to influence politics in California. So why would Brulte take money from unions who spend nearly all of their political resources on liberal causes and support Democratic candidates?
When Brulte was asked about this by a group of reporters, he emphasized that taking these contributions is part of a larger strategy to engage and encourage Republican members of public sector unions. He said:
“There are Republican members in almost every union I’m aware of. A significant percentage of SEIU 1000 members are Republican. Forty percent of the CTA members are Republicans. For years, those Republicans have been trying to get their leadership — most of whom are activist Democrats — to give some of that money to Republicans. I’ve been working with the Republicans in these unions, and they have been encouraging their leaders to take some of their dues money and give it to Republican causes.”
If the CTA membership is as high as 40 percent registered Republican in a state where only 28 percent of the electorate is registered Republican, why has it taken this long for members to put pressure on their union leaders to give money to Republicans? In October 2012 according to Mary Kay Henry, then President of the SEIU, about 30 percent of SEIU members voted Republican and an additional 20 percent were independents.
SEIU members should be very concerned about this kind of “pay-for-play” bargaining on their behalf. If the SEIU wants to be taken seriously as an organization, they need to do more than show concern for supporting Democrats who promote their initiatives. They need to be concerned about wasteful spending and government programs; after all, SEIU members pay those taxes as well.
Do the 30 percent of the SEIU members who are Republicans have any control to how their dues are donated to parties? No. A year ago, Veritas O’Keefe’s organization sent out an email explaining the impact of this collusion between union leadership and the Democrats.
“Since 2005, labor unions have reported spending $4.4 billion on political activity, with the vast majority of that money going to Democrats like Robert Menendez, despite the fact that half of SEIU members identify as Republicans or Independents! Besides an obvious conflict of interest, the worst part about the financial arrangement between unions and elected officials is that much of the money going into campaign coffers comes from compulsory membership dues. In other words, union members are forced to pay for political candidates or activities they may not even support.”
If Republicans who are union members want to keep their jobs, they know the GOP is not welcomed by the SEIU, and they have kept their voices quiet. When asked whether or not accepting money from public sector unions might help legitimize public sector unions, Jim Brulte was emphatic.
The union strategy on political contributions will have an effect on the CAGOP in time. Whether this is a strategy to influence both parties or an attempt to be responsive to members, it puts the unions in a more powerful positions with both their traditional friends — the Democrats — and the Republicans.
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