Like a weakened animal, West Virginia’s labor unions are lashing out one last time to keep control of the West Virginia Legislature in Democrat hands.
This time, they’re hiding dishonestly behind a PAC which has “honest” in the name.
Earlier this year the West Virginia AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor union collective, formed a federal Political Action Committee (PAC) called Honest West Virginians. The PAC was registered by AFL-CIO Treasurer Josh Sword and the group shares an address with the AFL-CIO’s office in Charleston, West Virginia.
The Washington Times reports that the first donation to Honest West Virginians was from the West Virginia State Building & Construction Trades Council for $250,000. The only filings with the Federal Election Commission include their statement of organization and a July quarterly report.
While they’ve filed with the FEC, they don’t appear to be filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office. They have also filed no independent expenditures or electioneering communications reports with her office. Maybe she hasn’t had time to post them online, as she is too busy campaigning for the U.S. Senate as the Democrat candidate and violating other election laws.
It’s odd that they’ve filed zero reports with WVSOS, as they have sent out hundreds of campaign mailers and produced several TV and radio ads attacking Republican House of Delegates candidates across the state. Just the TV and radio ads cost nearly $65,000 according to FCC filings. You can see the full report here.
State code requires that any PAC making independent expenditures or electioneering communications costing more than $1,000 must file reports immediately with the Secretary of State’s office. They have definitely exceeded that dollar amount with the broadcast ads alone. Who knows how much they’ve spent on mailers.
The ads try to link Republican House candidates to the Koch Brothers and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, accusing the candidates of supporting lax clean water regs, rollbacks of coal mine safety regs, and killing Social Security and Medicaid. Honest West Virginians have also paid for radio ads and mailers supporting Mike Bright, a Democrat running against Republican Delegate Steve Westfall in 12th House District (Jackson County).
It’s really a last gasp for labor’s influence on elections in West Virginia. The WV AFL-CIO has its own PAC as well, but evidently they don’t want to campaign for candidates under their own name. Honest right? It’s because while work and works are valued in the Mountain State, unions themselves have become the very things they worked so hard to fight. They don’t care about workers, they care about maintaining their power.
That’s going to be hard to do. According to the Mountaineer News Service, in 2012 union membership dropped by 9,000 in West Virginia. Union membership is made up more of public-sector workers in state and federal government. Union members are further hurt by West Virginia’s inflated prevailing wage which drives up construction costs.
The best thing for workers to succeed in West Virginia is for Republicans to gain control of state government and help foster an economic atmosphere for workers to find trades work. That won’t happen as long as union leaders continue to be dishonest with voters.