SEIU's political action committee, SEIU Committee on Political Education, has given $13.53 million to Barack Obama's Democratic presidential campaign and another $3.16 million to oppose Republican John McCain's campaign, according to federal disclosure reports.
Meanwhile, the union's national office this morning put out this press release, touting its campaign efforts on behalf of Obama.
Money collected from union dues cannot be donated to political campaigns. SEIU, like many other unions, encourages members to donate to its PAC, which is free to use that money for political purposes.
But as we reported last week, The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that challenges the legality of a union political fundraising policy the foundation says that SEIU adopted at its summer convention.
The 4-page complaint filed today alleges that the union has set political fundraising targets for the locals and fines those that fail to meet those totals.
SEIU Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker blasted the complaint as, "a pre-election ploy by a group that is upset that workers are spending money to support candidates who support workers," and said that the foundation is "misrepresenting SEIU's political program in order to try to score political points in the media." The local represents about 95,000 state workers across several bargaining units.
Want to look more deeply into SEIU COPE's federal campaign donations?
You can read its latest Federal Election Commission disclosure form on its Obama donations by clicking here. Look for the "Candidate Year-to-Date Per Election for Office Sought" to get the latest number.
Click here for SEIU total donations opposing John McCain as of Oct. 15.
And you can click here for the union PAC's reports going all the way back to 1993.
Final note: We'd like to hear from SEIU members of either political persuation for a pre-election piece we're writing for this Thursday's State Worker column.
Call us at (916) 321-1043 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be part of our column.
IMAGES: Sacramento Bee wire services