Monday, October 25, 2010

Public employee unions underfund pensions and give lavishly to Democrat campaigns in expectation of pension bailouts

Public employee unions are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigns while estimates of underfunded rank-and-file public employee pension plans reach a staggering $3 trillion dollars.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has to date spent $87.5 million this election cycle, according a Wall Street Journal report, and has spent a total of nearly $360 million since the 1997-98 election cycle.

"We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "But we don't like to brag."

Scanlon has run AFSCME election programs for nearly 15 years and readily admits the connection between the number of government jobs and the union's political clout.

"The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics," Scanlon told the Journal.

When Democrats in Congress sent more than $160 billion in bailouts to states over the past 20 months, as much as $100 million went to union dues from public sector employees, according to Brett McMahon, spokesman for Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade organization.

"We borrowed money from the Chinese again in order to give Democrats extra campaign help," McMahon told Human Events.

McMahon believes this sort of "hand-in-glove interest" would result in a bribery prosecution in the private sector.

"It's a really a unique situation where you have these contractual obligations that state officials negotiate with people who have supported them directly," McMahon said. "In business, for example, if I sent a big contribution to one of my customers and said, 'Hey, you think I'm going to get that job I just bid on?' I'd actually probably have to talk to a prosecutor pretty quickly after that because that would be considered bribery."

The non-partisan taxpayer watchdog group, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), noted that state and local government pensions are underfunded by a staggering $3.04 trillion when applying private-sector accounting practices to state pension funds.

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