Union donations just as corrupting as corporate ones

I am writing in response to Sarah ChandlerâÄôs March 7 column âÄúDonâÄôt let the big donors run politicsâÄù criticizing the Koch brothers and arguing their donations âÄúwill affect a politicianâÄôs policies.âÄù I assume the Koch brother figures cited by Chandler are correct, but they only tell half the story.   

It appears, Chandler and opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott WalkerâÄôs policies argue, that all big donors are big corporations. This cannot be right, for if it is the case, what are the unions like American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees or the Service Employees International Union? My money is on big donors.

According to the February 28 article âÄúMissing Senators rely heavily on union campaign dollarsâÄù in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, since the beginning of 2008, these two groups have combined to donate over $1.3 million to the Greater Wisconsin Committee, described by the paper as âÄúa liberal group that advocates on behalf of Democratic candidates.âÄù

On an individual scale, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the 14 missing-in-action Senate Democrats have received $344,000 in campaign contributions since 2007 from public unions and their individual employees, about 18 percent of total funding.

Arguably, no one has benefited more from the union support than Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee. According to the Sentinel, about two-thirds of all campaign contributions he has received since 2007 are from the public sector. This should be no surprise: Coggs is a current union member and former treasurer of his AFSCME local.  In his own words, âÄúWhat do you expect? IâÄôm a labor guy.âÄù 

In sum, arguing that big donations from big corporations âÄúinterfereâÄù with elections is only part of the story. Large groups from all belief systems contribute large amounts of money to support candidates they believe will promote favorable policies.

If Chandler really wanted to eliminate these large contributions, she would have presented the full picture.  Instead, in her world, we must outlaw corporate donations but not those from the equally large, powerful and rich public unions.