Political process or organized corruption of the political process?

Not a fan of the unions …

As readers may have noted, I am not a fan of the unions who tend to value seniority and political connections over actual on-the-job performance. It has become increasingly clear to me that many present day unions have been infiltrated by far-left liberals who are using their member’s dues to further corrupt the activities of our cities, state and nation with their political activities.

In an era when civil-service style power over public employees has been decimated by the unions, I am extremely fearful that we are fast approaching a tipping point where the public’s input into running their own cities, towns and states are being eroded by union activities.

It seems that there is no longer any pretense of fighting for “health and safety” issues, but that there is an all-out effort to secure additional political power that benefits the union executives rather than its membership.

Past posts have indicated my concern with the union activities.

Unions: Ever wonder what they are doing with their funds when not seeking to buy political influence and change the course of elections? (Updated)

And when the ultra-liberal Los Angeles Times seems concerned, perhaps it is time for a closer look …

“Unions' campaign fund for Ridley-Thomas raises fears about special interests”

'Independent expenditures' outside the candidates' control could play an increasing role in city and county elections, some officials believe.

“Three years ago, campaign finance experts watched with alarm as one-fifth of the money raised on behalf of Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa came from ‘independent expenditures,’ special interests with no limits on how much they could collect and spend.”

“The numbers were even more jaw-dropping for Villaraigosa 's opponent, then-Mayor James K. Hahn. Although he lost his bid for a second term, Hahn saw one-third of his financial backing, or $2 million, come from such groups.”

“But those amounts look tame compared to the $8.5 million amassed so far this year by an array of labor unions seeking to elect state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas to the county Board of Supervisors on Nov. 4. For every $1 raised by Ridley-Thomas, those unions have raised nearly $9 for a separate campaign on his behalf, according to fundraising reports.”

Fearing the incursion of the special interests …

“The change has not gone unnoticed by other city and county politicians, who fear the supervisorial election will establish a new precedent, inspiring real estate developers, billboard companies, employee unions and other special interests to pursue a similar strategy in future campaigns.”

Buying an election?

" ‘It's out-and-out buying an election,’ said Supervisor Gloria Molina, who has endorsed Ridley-Thomas' opponent, City Council member Bernard Parks.”

" ‘If the special interests see this as being successful, there's no telling how far it will go, and it will be much easier for candidates to submit to special interests instead of going out, working hard and raising [their own] money,’ she said.”'

It’s all about self-interest over the rights of the people …

Like all politicians, Supervisor Molina is not so much concerned with the toxic effects of special interests on the people’s government as she is in protecting her own seat from future challenge.

“Molina predicted that she would be the next target of a union independent expenditure campaign when she comes up for reelection in 2010.”

Lobbyists are also concerned, especially if their political influence is greatly diminished by labor unions and others who do not seem to require their lawyerly skills.

“Meanwhile, one veteran Los Angeles lobbyist marveled at the sheer size of the union campaign, calling it ‘off-the-charts extraordinary.’”

“ ‘Other than governor, I don't know that there are statewide candidates that spend that much,’ said lobbyist Steve Afriat.”

Undue influence?

“Ridley-Thomas said Parks and his supporters are simply upset that they failed to secure the backing of the county's powerful Federation of Labor, known for its ability to win elections.”

And he defended the current campaign arrangement, saying he is following all laws that apply to outside campaign groups. ‘It's appropriate. It's fair. It's legal,’ he said. ‘And the only reason they're criticizing it is because they don't have this level of support.’"

Mark Ridley-Thomas is a far-left, liberal democrat politician who has pegged his career on his social activist positions. He has a superb background and I would hate to see his influence further corrupted by unions and the special interests.

Free speech or gateway to political corruption?

“Independent expenditures came into being in the mid-1970s, after Congress passed a law placing a $1,000 limit on campaign contributions. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the limits on individuals and groups spending independently on behalf of candidates, saying they violated donors' constitutionally protected right to free speech.”

If “free speech” were truly the issue, why can’t anybody give any amount to any politician of their liking?

It seems to me that the Supreme Court’s ruling was to strike a balance between the power of the incumbency to raise money and those who would ever-increasing amounts of money to challenge them. The goal being to keep the money flowing from all directions in the political process.

But little is said about the corrupting influence of the special interests which have led the nation astray. Military contractors putting forth expensive and unworkable defense systems, the financial industry lobbying for a bailout from their imprudent lending standards, the trade associations lobbying for relaxed regulation which is designed to protect the public or for increased protectionism against would-be competitors. 

Corrupting influence to allow candidates to avoid public fundraising events?

“So far this year, the labor coalition has used its largesse to hire researchers, send campaign mailers, erect campaign signs, purchase full-page newspaper ads, reserve radio advertising time and develop 30-second television spots in English and Spanish for Ridley-Thomas, none of which can be coordinated by the candidate.”

Multiplying the political effort of the candidate …

“The overwhelming effort means that Ridley-Thomas has been able to avoid some of the expenses that candidates typically face. For example, many who run for office in South Los Angeles, including Parks, place at least a few advertisements in the Los Angeles Sentinel, the region's most prominent black-owned newspaper. Last spring, two union groups bought at least 11 full-page ads promoting Ridley-Thomas as part of their independent expenditure. Ridley-Thomas did not purchase any.”

This is wrong …

“Service Employees International Union Local 721, the biggest donor to the union initiative, called a news conference Friday at which Ridley-Thomas was expected to discuss county hospital funding. Only union officials attended, not Ridley-Thomas.”

Coincidently, or maybe not so coincidently, SEIU is the union I cite in my blog entry [link here] as being investigated for internal corruption by their leadership.

The remedy is not yet at hand …

“The only thing that could stem the tide of independent expenditures -- frequently called I.E.s by political professionals -- is a successful lawsuit before the high court, said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Government Studies, a Los Angeles group that tracks campaign finance laws.”

" ‘Until it reaches a point where the court says it's gone too far and is corrupting the system -- and I think it does -- there will be unlimited I.E.s,’ he said.”

Union bashing?

Lest someone accuse me of union bashing, I am doing exactly that. With the exception of union activities which impinge directly on the health and welfare of their members and to prevent egregious punitive actions against those who advocate for safer jobs (think coal mines, etc.), I believe that most unions are fundamentally incompatible with the precepts on which this country was founded as they sap individual and collective will and creativity in favor of forcing European-style “collectivism” on the nation. I strongly believe individual rights need be protected against an increasing hostile left-wing collectivist movement which brings nothing but socialism and despair to the process.

What can YOU do?

Remember, what the unions are purchasing is not only access to politicians, but the right to implement their own political agenda.

  • Unions want to eliminate “secret ballots” which provide anonymity for those voting to authorize union representation. By eliminating the traditional secrecy of the ballot, each employee and their family is made more susceptible to union thuggery and coercion.
  • Unions want to demand a closed shop where all employees are union members or must pay an amount equivalent to union dues to another entity.
  • Unions want to enforce on-the-job work rules which gives them power almost equal to the owners who are risking their own capital on the enterprise or management which is charged with making a return on the owner’s investment. Often incompetent employees are retained due to the difficulty of firing a union member for anything short of murder. In essence, the unions want to be an extra-legal partner in all private and public enterprise.
  • Unions want to obtain ever increasing wages and benefits to prove that they are being of service to their membership. These demands are ongoing and very rarely take into account the financial considerations of the business.
  • Unions want to extend their political power at all costs.

In the case of public employee unions, the power to shut down a municipality and inconvenience thousands of law-abiding, hardworking citizens has long been another goal of the union. Like in France, we have seen shutdowns in our public transit systems, garbage collection used to great political advantage by the unions to enforce their dictates.

I suggest that my fellow citizens vote for the non-union candidate whenever possible and to demand that civil service regulations replace union representative in public entities.

And for union members to demand that their leadership bring political endorsements to the rank and file for a secret ballot vote on the expenditures.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the far-left and their infiltration into trade unions, public employee service unions, and into environmental challenges of existing law or projects is rapidly reducing the quality of life in America. Substituting corruption for competence with the end result of controlling our society.

-- steve 

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Reference Links:

Los Angeles Times: Unions' campaign fund for Ridley-Thomas raises fears about special interests

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