The Nat’l Legal & Pol’y Ctr., a union corruption watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Fed. Election Comm’n Oct. 30 against Gore/Lieberman, Inc., AFL-CIO and Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees for an apparent violation of federal election law. The complaint concerns a full page advertisement that appeared in the Washington Post on Oct. 11, which attacked Tex. Gov. George W. Bush’s tax cut plan and listed 300 economists.
The ad stated: “Paid for by the working men and women of [AFSCME] and the AFL-CIO.” It also said: “We, the undersigned, oppose the large-scale tax cuts that are the centerpiece of presidential candidate George W. Bush’s economic proposals.” It states: “Targeting the surplus to these families as proposed by Vice President Gore makes more sense.” It said: “To waste that opportunity with this tax scheme would be economically and socially irresponsible.”
The ad could be considered express advocacy or a coordinated “issue ad.” Either interpretation of the ad results in a violation of the Fed. Election Campaign Act.
“In the ad George W. Bush was described as a presidential candidate as opposed to governor or without any title. That shows that the ad focuses on the election rather than on issues,” said NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm. “The advertisement clearly is for the purpose of influencing a federal election, which means it is an in-kind contribution to Gore-Lieberman. But, because they are accepting public financing under the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act, they cannot accept contributions, including in-kind contributions, like this ad.”
“The AFL-CIO says it supports campaign finance reform, but it can’t even obey existing law. It may have recruited 300 economists to be critical of the Bush Tax Plan, but maybe they should have checked with their own members, many of whom support the Bush plan.”