Under Freedom Foundation Pressure, Teamsters 117 Shutters Dues-Funded Political Fund

Under Freedom Foundation Pressure, Teamsters 117 Shutters Dues-Funded Political Fund

Under Freedom Foundation Pressure, Teamsters 117 Shutters Dues-Funded Political Fund

Originally Published on RedState.com

While loathe to admit it, many government unions finance their extensive political operations with dues collected from members ostensibly for workplace representation. Thanks to the Freedom Foundation, however, members of Teamsters Local 117 now have less of their dues diverted to political purposes.

Teamsters 117 claims to represent about 16,500 employees working for 200 employers in Washington, making it one of the 10 largest in the state. A large segment of the union’s membership works for the government, including the state Department of Corrections and a number of local and municipal public employers.

Historically, Teamsters 117 had financed its political contributions through the “Teamsters Local 117 Segregated Fund” (SF), which is registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a “political organization” under 26 U.S.C. § 527.

Lack of proper reporting made identifying the source of the SF’s funds and its expenditures difficult. Federal law requires political organizations to file periodic reports with the IRS itemizing contributions received and expenditures made. However, a political organization can avoid reporting its financial transactions to the IRS if it instead reports them to a state government campaign finance entity, as many state laws require. In Washington, campaign finance reports related to Washington elections must be filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

In its IRS filings, the SF repeatedly claimed exemption from reporting its contributions and expenditures to the IRS because it instead reported them at the state level which, if true, would have been appropriate. In reality, however, the SF never registered as a political committee with the PDC and didn’t report its contributions or expenditures at all, meaning its political activity was invisible to the public and in violation of both state and federal laws.

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Director of Labor Policy
Maxford Nelsen is the Freedom Foundation’s Director of Labor Policy. In this capacity, Max regularly testifies on labor issues before local governments and the state legislature. Max’s research has formed the basis of several briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Max’s work has been published in local newspapers around the country and in national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, National Review and the American Spectator. His work on labor policy issues has been featured in media outlets like the New York Times, Fox News and PBS News Hour. He is a frequent guest on local radio stations like 770 KTTH and 570 KVI. From 2019-21, Max was a presidential appointee to the Federal Service Impasses Panel within the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which resolves contract negotiation disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation in 2013, Max worked for WashingtonVotes.org and the Washington Policy Center, and interned with the Heritage Foundation. Max holds a labor relations certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated magna cum laude from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A Washington native, he lives in Olympia with his wife and sons.