Donor profile: AFSCME

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Ranking: 12

Total contributions to super PACs: $8.2 million*

  • $3.9 million to Workers’ Voice (pro-Democratic), formerly known as AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC
  • $1 million to Majority PAC (pro-Democratic)
  • $660,000 to America Votes Action Fund (pro-Democratic)
  • $575,000 to American Bridge 21st Century (pro-Democratic)
  • $565,000 to House Majority PAC (pro-Democratic)
  • $530,000 to Moving Ohio Forward Action Fund (pro-Democratic)
  • $250,000 to Priorities USA Action (pro-Barack Obama)
  • $125,000 to Iowans for Intergrity in Leadership (pro-Democratic)
  • $100,000 to Fair Share Action (pro-Democratic)
  • $100,000 to Patriot Majority PAC (pro-Democratic)
  • $100,000 Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman (pro-Howard Berman)
  • $54,900 to Working for Us PAC (pro-Democratic)
  • $50,000 to The American Worker (pro-Democratic)
  • $50,000 to Sierra Club Independent Action (pro-environment)
  • $50,000 to Ohio Families United (pro-Democratic)
  • $42,500 to Defend Our Homes (pro-Democratic)
  • $10,000 to Protecting America's Retirees (union-aligned)
  • $8,650 to Connecticut's Future PAC (pro-Democratic)
  • $5,000 to Young Democrats of America (pro-Democratic)

Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

  • Nearly $2.1 million in PAC donations to Democratic candidates during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics
  • $2.3 million in PAC donations to Democratic candidates during the 2010 election cycle

Notable state-level contributions (see here):

  • $104,000 to Democratic candidates in Texas (2012)
  • $14,000 to Democratic candidates running in Kansas (2010)

Total spent on federal lobbying 2007-2012 (see here): $15.6 million

Lobbying issues: Education, federal budget, environment, labor, health care

Biography:

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees represents more than 1.4 million laborers, ranging from clerical government workers to nurses in public hospitals. The organization is made up of 3,400 local unions and affiliates in 46 states.

AFSCME is a member of the greater umbrella organization, the AFL-CIO, whose super PAC arm — Workers’ Voice — received nearly $4 million in contributions from the union this election cycle.

Overall, AFSCME gave $8.2 million to super PACs in the 2012 cycle — spending made possible thanks to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unions, corporations and wealthy individuals to make unlimited contributions to outside groups that expressly advocated for the election or defeat of federal candidates.

Lee Saunders, who was elected as AFSCME's president in June, is an Ohio native and the product of a union family — his father was a bus driver and his mother was a community organizer in Cleveland. Saunders is the first African-American to head AFSCME.  

Saunders stepped into the role just a few weeks after the failed AFSCME-backed effort to unseat Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election. The contest attracted nearly $64 million in outside spending.

AFSCME spent heavily in the 2012 election, aiming more than $2.5 million in independent expenditures and voter turnout efforts against the presidential candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney.

The union’s other top targets included Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. — AFSCME spent nearly $2 million attacking him — and the Wisconsin Senate race, where the union spent $1.8 million to take down Republican candidate Tommy Thompson.

After sustaining the blow of Gov. Rick Snyder’s passage of Michigan’s right-to-work law in December, AFSCME and other big labor players plan to ramp up their efforts for upcoming gubernatorial elections, Politico reported.

“You’ve got governors in this country, you’ve got ultra-conservatives who are trying to hurt us,” Saunders told C-SPAN in July. “They don’t want to see working families have a fair shake.”

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.