Organized labor has poured about $45 million into pro-Democratic super PACs in the current election cycle, according to data reported to the Federal Election Commission. But only a small portion of that money has been spent, meaning that Republican candidates likely will face a heavy barrage of attack ads in the fall. Federal filings show, for example, that unions have donated about $10.7 million to Priorities USA Action, the top Democrat-aligned super PAC, accounting for about one-sixth of the group’s funds. That exceeds the donations by deep-pocketed liberal donors such as George Soros ($7 million), Univision owner Haim Saban ($3.5 million), and Herbert and Marion Sandler ($2.5 million), according to the Center For Responsive Politics. In the last presidential election cycle, unions donated $13.4 million overall to Priorities USA Action. With six months remaining this year’s election, the unions could easily top that figure before the year’s end. Super PACs are campaign organizations that, unlike traditional political action committees, can raise unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations and labor unions, and are not limited in the amounts they can spend to back or oppose a particular candidate. Legally, they are obligated to be separate from the candidate’s campaign, though most are run by people with close ties to the candidate or party the super PAC is aiding. Donations to super PACs are separate from direct donations to candidates’ campaigns, which are capped by law. Unions are major backers of virtually every large pro-Democratic super PAC. Working for Working Americans is entirely funded by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, who put $5 million into it. The AFL-CIO labor federation has put nearly $5 million into its own Workers’ Voices PAC. National Nurses United has put nearly $3.8 million into its super PAC. Labor groups also have spent at least $8.7 million to date on non-super PAC independent campaign-related expenditures, according to FEC records. The Service Employees International Union has spent about $3.8 million through its political action committee, SEIU COPE, which is funded by members’ donations. These funds can range from everything from TV and radio advertising to printing T-shirts for rallies. Overall, unions have donated $2.7 million to the Senate Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats regain a majority there and $1 million to the David Brock-founded American Bridge 21st Century group. The National Education Association has put $2.2 million into its own super PAC. “The largest particular spenders in any election season tend to be individual unions, though total corporate contributions tend to exceed those of the unions. But unions can also spend in a lot of ways that are ‘off the books’ — through membership communications, manpower, etc.,” said former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith, now a professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. “What strikes me, as always, is that both sides have pretty good funding. Most campaign finance wars are about one side trying to shut down the other side’s funding. That’s why Democrats and their allies in the media constantly go on about corporations and conservative billionaires. If they can get them out of the game, they’ll have a big funding edge.” Conservative super PACs have raised more money than liberal ones, at first glance suggesting that the liberal ones will be outgunned this cycle. But those numbers are deceiving because most of the conservative super PACs already have spent a majority of the funds they raised during the crowded, drawn-out Republican Party primary. The largest super PAC this election cycle, Right to Rise, raised an estimated $120 million to boost Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s bid and spent a reported $81 million for a campaign that failed to win a single primary. The Conservative Solutions PAC spent $55 million of the $60 million it raised backing Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida before he dropped out. Super PACs backing other failed candidacies including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, retired surgeon Ben Carson, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, spent an estimated $72 million backing candidacies that ultimately failed. Liberal super PACs, by contrast, have held most of their money in reserve. Priorities USA has raised more than $67 million overall, the second largest amount raised by any Super PAC this cycle, but has spent only $6 million, according to spokesman Justin Barasky. That makes it not only the largest active super PAC but one with the largest reported cash reserve. “We have been saving most of our most of our money for the general election,” Barasky said, adding that they intended to start spending in earnest in June. “We know the Republicans will be going full force against Hillary by then and we want to be on the front lines, correcting the record.” The Senate Majority PAC has raised $12 million but spent $4 million. American Bridge 21st Century has raised $13.5 million and has reportedly made no expenditures. The main exception is National Nurses United, which has spent the bulk of its money to boost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Democratic primary bid.
This is but a fraction of the war-chest the DNC has backing up whatever funds it raises to throw at Trump and GOP candidates for the House and Senate…as well as at the state and local levels. Big labor will pull out all the stops to ensure princess Hillary is anointed, and that the Senate goes back to Dem control. This is what the GOP is up against..and it’s only the beginning. Keep that in mind as we get ready to go into the election cycle.