Jonathan Collegio tells Newsmax.TV that an American Crossroads study debunks several “media myths” about super PACs and other groups that traditionally have supported conservative candidates and causes.
“What we found was really stunning,” said Collegio, communications director for American Crossroads.
“The biggest spenders for campaigns and elections — literally going back to the 1930s — are not outside groups like American Crossroads, or super PACs, but labor unions,” he said during the exclusive interview with Newsmax.
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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the most generous of all unions to Democrats. In 2010, The Wall Street Journal
reported, “The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on elections.”
The Journal quotes Larry Scanion, head of the AFSCME’s political operations, as saying, “We’re the big dog . . . but we don’t like to brag.”
When combined, the three largest super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates have spent much less than the AFSCME’s total for 2010. Restore Our Future, which supports Gov. Mitt Romney, has spent about $31 million. Winning Our Future, which backs Newt Gingrich, has spent about $17 million. And the Red, White, and Blue Fund, which supports Rick Santorum, has spent about $5 million.
The $53 million that those three super PACs spent collectively backing GOP candidates is a “drop in the bucket” compared with the money that unions, PACs, and Super PACS are expected to spend to support Democratic efforts.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics keeps track of the 140 “Top All-Time Donors”
to political campaigns and organizations from 1989-2012. The vast majority of the top-20 support Democratic efforts. Many of those are labor unions. The first Conservative supporting group doesn’t show up on the list until 18.
Collegio also told Newsmax that union groups tend to specialize in grass-roots campaigning.
“They really dedicate their resources to canvassing, going door-to-door with their members, phone banks — calling and communicating with their members, direct mail to their members, and all kinds of things that go underneath the radar in campaigns and elections. They cost a lot of money to do, but they are actually very effective,” Collegio said.
One reason Super PACs are getting so much attention now is because they are spending their money on television and radio commercials, he said.
“Folks are focusing on super PACs right now, but where the big money is — and where it’s always been — has been big labor unions,” Collegio said.
Another “myth” Collegio talked about is “the sense that, while the unions are supporting Democrats, businesses and corporations are supporting Republicans. That’s not really the case either.”
“We looked at 2010, which is the cycle when Republicans picked up the house, very nearly picked up the Senate. And what did we see? The traditional PACs from corporations and from interest groups — those went 53 percent for Democrats and 46 percent for Republicans. Those are business groups funding the re-elections of Democrats. And reason for that is that business groups like to deal with incumbents.
“If there really is a preference among business groups, they just want to support whoever is in office,” Collegio said.
Experts have predicted that this will be the most expensive election in U.S. history. American Crossroads, which GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie helped found, expects President Barack Obama to raise and spend a billion dollars for his re-election campaign.
Labor unions are expected to “pump in half a billion on top of that exclusively dedicated to the Democrats,” and “left-wing groups . . . we expect them to throw in a couple hundred million,” Collegio said.
“We are going to see maybe $2 billion spent to try and elect Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2012.”
Collegio conceded that American Crossroads’ 2012 fundraising goal of $240 million to $300 million “is a lot of money.” But organizations like his have a responsibility to balance out spending in the political process, he said.
“It doesn’t compare to what the unions are spending and what is going to be spent on Barack Obama and by all of those groups supporting his candidacy, Collegio said.”
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