Would you take and spend someone else’s money if you were certain they didn’t want you to have it?
Of course not. That would be stealing. And yet every election year dozens of candidates all over Washington state unashamedly do precisely that when they accept campaign contributions from organized labor.
According to a study released today by the Freedom Foundation:
- 76 percent of all union political funds in Washington state come from general fund transfers, not voluntary contributions from union members;
- only about 21 percent of all union political funds came from voluntary contributions; and,
- while 21 unions in Washington used only voluntary contributions during the last election cycle, 65 relied on general fund transfers of compulsory union dues.
Like all states that don’t have right-to-work laws on their books, Washington has hundreds of workplaces – including government at every level – where workers are compelled to join and fund a union whether they choose to do so or not.
And when they do, a portion of their union dues is donated to candidates and causes they may not support.
“The courts have repeatedly ruled that campaign contributions are an expression of free speech,” said Trent England, an attorney with the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation. “And that’s fine if you’re spending your own money. But the unions are spending money they’ve extorted from their members by threatening to have them fired if they didn’t hand it over.”
“The First Amendment is meaningless if someone else has the right to seize your assets and use them to elect a candidate you oppose,” he said. “You might as well just hand your right to vote over to the union, too.”
That’s why the Freedom Foundation is challenging every candidate in the coming election to reject campaign contributions from organized labor unless it can be verified that every dollar was obtained voluntarily.
Every registered candidate in the state has been sent the new report authored by the Freedom Foundation explaining how the system is rigged to abridge the rights of workers. Most importantly, the packet includes a written pledge all candidates are encouraged to sign promising not to accept money from unions that don’t allow members the option of not contributing to political candidates.
“I can’t imagine anything more despicable than stealing someone’s own money to elect a candidate he or she opposes,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe. “And I can’t imagine anything more elitist and arrogant than for a candidate to accept that money with the assumption that he knows better how to spend it than the person who rightfully earned it.”
“Washington state isn’t a Banana Republic dictatorship,” he continued. “The essence of our democracy is that people have every right to support and vote for whomever they please, not the person the union they were forced to join tells them to. Honorable candidates will take the pledge and refuse to accept dirty money.”
Founded in 1991, the Freedom Foundation is a think and action tank based in Olympia.