24 October 2002
Broiled gander, extra sauce
Let me see if I understand this:
A right-wing group that spends money to affect the outcome of an election is a special-interest group that must be regulated for the good of the country. A left-wing group that spends money to affect the outcome of an election is a professional organization that is only looking out for the good of the country.
If this sounds fatuous to you, get a load of this:
Washington is an "agency shop" state: it is not mandatory to belong to the union to hold a position represented by the union, but nonmembers must pay an agency fee in lieu of dues. The laws provide that money from agency fees may not be used for political purposes without the specific permission of the nonmembers whose fees are being spent. The National Education Association in Washington, pushing initiatives to reduce class size and increase teacher salaries, apparently blew off those restrictions. The state's Public Disclosure Commission evaluated the situation and advised the Attorney General to take action against the NEA, an action endorsed by The Seattle Times.
The Times editorial drew a response from Charles Haase, president of the Washington Education Association, the state's NEA affiliate, who took up five paragraphs to attack the Public Disclosure Commission, complaining that the PDC is being used as a tool for "eliminating the participation of organized labor in the political process."
None of this would have happened, in other words, if those baddies on the PDC hadn't insisted that the agency-shop law means what it says it means. Our man at Horologium finds the NEA's position hypocritical:
Hasse rails against the PDC because it is fulfilling its mandate, to inform the electorate from where the money to support the projects is coming. The PDC is not responsible for the lawsuits; the PDC reported the egregious violations to the Washington State attorney general's office for prosecution.
The NEA has been a consistent proponent of campaign finance reform; they wish to eliminate the "pernicious" nature of big money in politics. However, when it is their money and influence that is under review, they claim unfair persecution. Apparently, big money in politics is only a problem when it goes to causes opposed by the overwhelmingly Democratic teacher's union leadership.
And apparently it hasn't occurred to the union that the reason it has agency-shop money in lieu of dues in the first place might be because there are teachers unwilling to support the union's political agenda.