Someone asked me on Monday if Labor Issues Solutions, LLC could compile the Dayton Public Policy Institute’s recent blog posts about campaign finance into one PDF document for easier review and distribution, since no one else is researching and reporting on such matters. Here is a copy of the document, entitled “There’s Nothing Wrong with Letting the People of California Know How Unions Collect Money and Spend It on State and Local Politics.”
Here are the titles of the six investigative reports, with links to five of the original blog posts and the link to the original article in www.FlashReport.org about the radio advertising campaign of Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations.
1. Who Defeated the City of Auburn’s Proposed Charter, and How Was It Done? (Answer: Three Union Entities, by Spending $56.40 Per NO Vote). Link to June 11, 2012 Blog Post
2. How Has the No on Proposition A Campaign in the City of San Diego Shelled Out Its Money? An Analysis. Link to June 3, 2012 Blog Post
3. California’s Top Construction Union Boss Opens the Slush Fund Hydrant: $1.14 Million Full-Blast Against San Diego’s Proposition A Voter Initiative. Link to May 29, 2012 Blog Post
4. Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It. Link to May 31, 2012 Blog Post
5. Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government. Featured Column for May 16, 2012 in www.FlashReport.org. Also, see Kevin Dayton’s full set of FlashReport columns here.
6. Why Have Construction Unions Funded 92 Percent of the Campaign of Placer County Supervisor Candidate Pam Tobin? Link to May 25, 2012 Blog Post
Regrettably, I have not yet analyzed the reports for what was expected to be a close race for the District 2 seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors between Candace Andersen and Tomi Van De Brooke. It deserves a closer look because of the surprising results of that race on June 5. Andersen blew union-backed Van De Brooke out of the water – Andersen won 60% while Van De Brooke only received only 28% of the vote. See Stunning Vote Gap in Contra Costa Supervisor Race Traced to Multiple Factors – column by Lisa Vorderbrueggen – Contra Costa Times – June 9, 2012.
In the meantime, why is no one else besides the Dayton Public Policy Institute producing this kind of investigative report on campaign finance? Here are my guesses:
- It takes years of experience to master this kind of arcane research.
- This kind of research is time-consuming and detailed – overworked, underpaid journalists don’t have the time to do it themselves.
- People don’t want to pay for this kind of research, because they don’t see how it translates into profit, market advantage, or other “value propositions.”
- This kind of reporting is too analytical and “boring” to ordinary people and doesn’t attract readers, listeners, or viewers, and therefore it is not generally useful for the media.
- Business groups, trade associations, 501(c)(3) policy institutes, foundations, and other corporate entities are doing the same thing and don’t want to be subjected to scrutiny themselves in retaliation.
- Non-profits that focus on campaign finance are usually on the Left of the political spectrum and aren’t inclined to report on union campaign spending, since they regard unions as the voice of the ordinary worker.
- By the time anyone can adequately analyze spending in a campaign, the campaign is over, the voters have spoken, and the world has moved on to follow the latest hot trend.
Personally, I think this situation is a shame. It reflects some of the fundamental governance problems we have in this state.
Please contact me if you would like to fund this type of investigative work. For now, I’ve been doing it simply based on personal interest and as a strategy to develop credibility as a researcher and reporter on public policies and politics. Yes, I am seeking contracts just like any other small business owner.