Happy Labor Day, please enjoy your campaign contributions. That’s the message from the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, a group dedicated to combatting the influence of organized labor in the state’s public policy among other conservative goals.
On Monday, CAP launched paunionmoney.com, a site which tracks contributions from public sector employee unions to candidate for state House and Senate in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The top recipients are all Democrats, traditionally the political allies of unions.
Senate Appropriations Minority Chair Vincent Hughes is the top member overall with $78,500 according to CAP. In the House, Appropriations Minority Chair Joe Markosek leads with $69,250.
But CAP is even more focused on the GOP. As recently as April, the group has supported primary challenges to Republicans it accuses of straying from the small government, fiscally conservative line.
Spokesman Leo Knepper lamented that, while Republican majorities in other states seek to limit public sector unions, no such shift has occurred in PA.
“In Pennsylvania, where the supposedly pro-taxpayer Republican Party has its largest majority in over 50 years, why has nothing changed? Because government union money flows to members of both parties in, from ‘leadership to newly elected members,” the group wrote in its announcement of the site.
The top Senate Republican recipient of public sector union contributions from 2010 to present is Senate Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati ($21,000), followed by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi ($19,000), and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman ($16,800). In the House, Majority Leader Mike Turzai leads Republicans far and away at $28,500.
Unions, along with most special interests, use campaign contributions as a way to improve lobbying relationships with those who lead the four caucuses and appropriations committees in Harrisburg – even those whose ideology they find at odds. Nowhere is this more clear than the PA Senate, which Republicans have held a solid majority for years.
Pileggi said the contributions from labor reflect his wide support.
“These numbers show that my record in the legislature on issues such as job creation and taxes have earned me broad-based support from the business community, such as the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, NFIB, and Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, as well as labor organizations representing police officers, the building trades, and firefighters, among others,” he said.
Pileggi said he commends CAP for site and reiterated his support for government transparency, including requiring certain campaign fundraising reports to be submitted on a monthly basis and mandating that all filing be done electronically.
The unions and PACs that CAP is counting includes some well known groups like the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the SEIU. The full list can be found here.