Big spenders play role in both sides of politics

Published 9:40 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision two years ago, removing restrictions on political spending by businesses and unions, cries about the effect of money in politics have escalated.

Many have asserted that businesses, with free rein to spend on politics, would funnel millions to the Republicans, leaving their opponents hopelessly outgunned.

It’s become such a popular theme that some accept this on faith, and some politicians wear claims, true or not, of being outspent like a badge of honor.

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But an analysis by The Wall Street Journal this month showed that corporate money is nearly evenly split between the two major parties — with slightly more going to Democrats — while political spending by labor unions, which goes almost exclusively to Democrats, has been greatly underestimated….

Where governors have tried to intervene in this cozy relationship, the unions have spent huge sums to defend the status quo. Assisted by extra dues assessments in Ohio and million-dollar-plus outside infusions from national unions, unions contributed a large portion of the $42.2 million spent in Ohio to repeal Senate Bill 5, which would have curbed collective-bargaining for public employees.

There always will be money in politics; what should be required is full disclosure of who’s giving what, so that voters can make up their own minds about who is trying to influence them.

But for unions and the beneficiaries of their spending to pretend as though they’re not part of the big-money game is simply false.

The Columbus Dispatch