The Unions Buy Minnesota

So how much money did Big Labor spend along with Big Lefty Plutocrat to buy the Governor’s Office and the Legislature?

If you believe the Strib, it’s “around $3 million.

If you believe the Strib is going to tell the truth about DFL perfidy – and especially the big money behind the DFL, I’ve got a 50% stake in the next Lindsay Lohan movie to sell you.

Bill Walsh, long-time Minnesota political operative, did a little digging into the story – and he’s got something the Twin Cities’ mainstream media doesn’t want to give you; the facts:

I’m publishing his piece as a guest writer at Shot In The Dark today.


Unions Spent $11.1 Million in 2012 to Buy Friendly Legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton

Bill Walsh, Shot In The Dark Guest Writer

A few weeks ago the Star Tribune published an article about campaign spending in the 2012 election focusing on two big individual donors – Alida Messinger and Bob Cummins. The conclusion? Each party has a big donor that gave lots of money, it’s all a wash. I’m afraid this story is all we’re going to get from the Strib on campaign spending analysis. Today, in an otherwise well written article on union influence at the capitol this year, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes that unions “put at least $3 million into elections.” I guess $11.1 million is “at least” $3 million. She’s only off by $8.1 million.

I took the time to go through the campaign finance reports of 111 different union organizations in Minnesota and nationally for the 2012 election. Spending ranged from Education Minnesota at $1.8 million to the Bemidji Central Labor Body AFL-CIO Political Fund at $250. State and local unions accounted for $9.1 million in campaign spending with national unions kicking in the other $2 million.

Union Contributions 2012 by

It took some time to come to the right numbers because many unions give money to each other for joint spending initiatives. These numbers reflect the net spending after backing out contributions between unions. It goes without saying that over 99% of the money went to DFL candidates and causes.

I blame myself for not getting this research to the StarTribune before they published today’s article. It really would have added some punch to their story.

For example, when talking about the nurses union asking the legislature for new staffing ratios that will drive up health care costs, it would have been useful to point out to readers the nurses union spent over $500,000 helping DFL candidates win back the legislature last year. As a matter of fact, that probably should be mentioned every time the media covers the progress of this legislation.

Likewise, when discussing AFSCME’s attempt to force unionization on small private childcare businesses, it would inform the reader to mention that seven different AFSCME organizations gave a total of $1.6 million to DFL candidates and causes in 2012.

The list goes on – Education Minnesota is trying to resurrect their statewide insurance pool legislation, MAPE and AFSCME are getting new generous employment contracts, the minimum wage is being increased and Dayton is following through on his promise to raise taxes on the rich.

But business spends a lot too, right? Wrong. It’s hard to get anywhere near $11.1 million if you add up the business money spent in the 2012 election. A business friendly PAC called Minnesota’s Future spent $1.2 million while the Chamber of Commerce-supported Coalition for Minnesota Businesses spent just $283,000 on the 2012 election. We all know the MNGOP received little support from the business community and the two legislative caucuses combined to spend only $4.1 million, and not all of that can be attributed to business.

According to today’s Pioneer Press, however, business interests do spend a lot on lobbying. The Campaign Finance Board reported that business interests spent $17.4 million lobbying the legislature during the 2011 session.

This may be the key to understanding today’s political environment. Unions spend heavily getting sympathetic Democrats elected to office. Once they are in place, it doesn’t take much money to lobby –the jury is already selected.

Business on the other hand, spends relatively little on the nuts and bolts of campaigns and prefers to hire lobbyists to try to influence the debate after the legislature has been selected.

What’s next?

First, Republican legislators need to hammer away on the $11.1 million unions spent to buy this legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton. They need to remind the public and the press at every opportunity to follow the money. Pay to play has never been more obvious in Minnesota.

Second, the business community needs to shift some of its resources to where it matters: the 2014 general election. Business will never match the collective self interest and desperation of the unions, so we need to reach a higher level of cooperation if we hope to recapture the House and win back the governor’s office in 2014.


MITCH ADDS:  More on this in coming weeks.

10 thoughts on “The Unions Buy Minnesota

  1. Troy…..its scarey what unions do. During the Wisconsin issues last year, WEAC put on their web site the times and locations of where Governor Walker would be speaking. They then told their members to go there, bring drums and horns, and try to prevent the governor from speaking. They didn’t even try to hid their intentions.

  2. Is Bill Walsh a Strib reporter? If he is, then I find this piece, and specifically a few sentences absolutely astounding, coming from a Strib journalist:

    First, Republican legislators need to hammer away on the $11.1 million unions spent to buy this legislature for Gov. Mark Dayton.

    A rarity? A Strib journalist other than Katherine Kersten that considers themselves a Republican?

    That’s pretty amazing.

  3. For a business, actively supporting a candidate can be dangerous. What if a business’ chosen candidate loses? The winner is now in a position to punish the business through taxes and regulation. Other than incumbents, or more specifically repaying a current politician for a favor (Klobuchar’s pet car dealer anyone?), most businesses won’t risk it. Remember the ringer Joe the Plumber was put through after the ’08 campaign? Have you heard the calls to audit and harass GOP mega donors? What about in the Wisconsin when the unions told local businesses to put up anti-Walker signs, or else? Remember the harassment of Target in ‘10 after donating money to pro-business organization that in turn supported Emmer? Until the right plays hardball the way the left and unions do, ptr, businesses will stick to lobbying. Despite claiming to hate it, the general public accepts lobbying, along with politicians, as part of the process.

  4. Lessee…..I’m calculating 5 million people in Minnesota, four million adult, three million having actually voted, a bit over half of those for Democrats… we’re saying, more or less, that the unions have spent approximately $7 PER VOTE that the DFL received.

    What was the total in spending on both sides?

  5. Actually, they even spent more per vote since Tom Horner got nearly 12% of the vote (Thanks for that, Tom …).

    What I don’t understand is what the unions have to gain. They’re rabidly entrenched up on the Iron Range, and pretty much every “educator” from teacher to broom pusher is just as attached to the union label.

    Where’s the rest of the big money for the unions? Baby sitters and diaper changers don’t strike me as great pickings. Neither do janitors; pairing a union card with a green card doesn’t really add up.

    Instead, perhaps they could make a concerted effort to leave the state, allow viable businesses to return, prosper, and return some wealth to Minnesota. Then swoop back in, pillage the place, and reap the rewards. Repeat as necessary. Seriously though, I don’t see where they could find find worthwhile pickings.

    SmithStCrx: An innocous home healthcare worker I know received an uninvited, unannounced, in-person visit at the door-step of their home (which is unlisted, whose occupation is not widely known) by a union organizer who made their displeasure clear when told that unionization was not a welcome option. Clearly, someone in a position to access private info. felt free to share it with impunity.

  6. Actually they spent much more than $7 per vote. The bulk of the Democrat voters will vote for the Democrat even if it is Betty McCallum. So the big bucks went to convince a few thousand people who otherwise may not vote, or would vote for the Republican.

  7. So the big bucks went to convince a few thousand people who otherwise may not vote, or would vote for the Republican.

    Or to discourage people from voting.

  8. Pingback: Bought and Paid For… Minnesota Legislature

  9. The bulk DFL voters will vote for DFL candidates if they are motivated to show up. The unions do a pretty good job of that phone banking and dragging people to the polls. With money, they can get the campaigns to do an even better job.

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