One of the America’s most corrupt unions, the Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees, a top bank-roller of Al Gore and the Democratic Party, has “quietly” created a group that is televising an ad harshly critical of George W. Bush. Neither, the group’s ad, nor its website, discloses its relationship with AFSCME.
AFSCME funneled $800,000 to start the group, Am. Family Voices. The group describes its mission as advocacy of “progressive policies, especially economic issues.” It alleges its membership includes advocates for consumers, health care, education, children, the elderly, civil rights and labor.
AFV was created in July, after Congress altered tax and election law to increase regulation of groups under Sec. 527 of the tax code. AFV was instead chartered under Sec. 501(c)(4), a provision in the tax code that allows it to engage in political activity with minimal financial disclosure.
AFV’s executive director is Michael Lux, a longtime liberal campaigner who worked for two years in the Clinton-Gore White House and has been affiliated with liberal group, People for the American Way.
Under its 501(c)(4) tax status, AFV is permitted to engage in political activities like polling, lobbying and issue advertising but is not permitted to advocate the election or defeat of individual candidates. Such groups must file public information returns with the IRS but are not required to disclose the sources of their income.
Lux said he had raised $700,000 in addition to AFSCME’s funds and intended to use the money this fall to buy issue advertising in the presidential campaign and selected Congressional races. He declined to identify the group’s other contributors, saying only that they were organizations and individuals who shared the union’s policy agenda for working people.
Fred Wertheimer, an advocate of increased federal regulation of free speech, said AFSCME’s hidden sponsorship of AFV dramatized a problem in American politics. “This is another example of interests’ conducting blatant electioneering activities and hiding their donors… This conduct is an evasion of the spirit of disclosure laws.” [N.Y. Times 8/11/00]