[T]he single organization that gave the most to super PACs in March was the National Education Association, which gave $3 million to its own super PAC.
By Russ Choma at OpenSecrets.org
Labor unions injected themselves into the super PAC story line in March to a greater degree than at any time yet this election cycle, increasing by 50 percent the amount given by organized labor in the previous 14 months.
Very wealthy individuals, the vast majority of them conservatives, have been by far the dominant donors to super PACs thus far in 2011-2012, and the March reports don’t change that. Of the $186.5 million donated to super PACs, $141.9 million of that — about 76 percent — has come from individuals. In March, individuals contributed at least $16.3 million of the roughly $32.1 million super PACs brought in. Add in the money from companies closely affiliated with notable conservative individuals, like the $1 million from Huron Carbon (which is privately owned and run by Bill Koch, a brother to Charles and David Koch, who are more active on the political side of the equation ), and the dominance of conservative individuals is even stronger.
The industry sectors that are giving big to super PACs haven’t changed much, according to OpenSecrets.org data – the finance, insurance and real estate sector continued to be a dominant force, accounting for 27 percent of all money to super PACs in March, with 87 percent of it going to conservative super PACs (a story we’ve reported before).
OpenSecrets.org data shows that the single organization that gave the most to super PACs in March was the National Education Association, which gave $3 million to its own super PAC. The teachers’ union hadn’t given a dime to outside spending groups yet this election cycle, but now it’s second only to Contran Corp. in overall contributions for the whole cycle (Contran is owned by Harold Simmons, who has also contributed to conservative super PACs on his own).
Similarly, the National Letter Carriers Association gave $1 million in March, with $500,000 to House Majority PAC (the super PAC supporting House Democrats) and $500,00 to the AFL-CIO’s super PAC, AFL-CIO Workers’ Voice, also the first contributions it has made in this election cycle. UNITE HERE, a union group representing hotel and textile workers, among others, gave $500,000 to the AFL-CIO super PAC, which doubles the group’s total giving this cycle. And the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers gave $326,000 in March, more than triple what it had given so far this cycle.
Of the 14 sectors of the economy that OpenSecrets.org tracks, labor vaulted to second place with its giving in March, behind the fire, insurance and real estate sector.
But the union money isn’t going into the presidential race – unlike much of the money from conservative individuals. Unions don’t appear anywhere on the list of top organizations giving to a presidential super PAC — the single biggest donation to a liberal super PAC by an organization was $50,000. The NEA is keeping its money in-house and hasn’t spent any of it. The money from postal workers went to House Democrats, likely at least in part because decisions made by Congress in the next few weeks could determine whether there are thousands of layoffs at the USPS.
Workers’ Voice, the AFL-CIO’s super PAC, has said it will focus on countering “voter protection” efforts by Republicans and both grassroots and digital strategies.
While almost all of this union money goes to liberal super PACs (just $100,000 in union money has gone to any conservative super PAC in the entire cycle), it can hardly be said that it’s turning the tide for liberal super PACs in the big picture — union money still only accounts for 9.3 percent of all super PAC fundraising.
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