Friday, August 15, 2008

New Ad Asks Mark Udall Why He Doesn't Want Your Workplace Vote to be Private

Seeing the question "Is Mark Udall Selling Out?" might make you think of his environmentalist friends asking why Udall is suddenly pandering away from his career-long opposition to offshore drilling.

In this case, it happens to be about Mark Udall's nearly-convinced appeal in favor of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

The initial question is part of a broader ad campaign by a group called Coloradans for Employee Freedom that questions Mark Udall's support for EFCA and wonders aloud: "Shouldn't your vote still be private?"

As the Daily Blogster puts it:
One value (VOTING) is extremely sacred to Americans and all freedom loving people around the world but Udall wants to make an exception when it comes to one of his most sacred of institutions....labor unions.
Which - going out on a limb here - may have something to do with hundreds of thousands of dollars in Big Labor campaign contributions.

After all, Mark Udall co-sponsored EFCA despite admitting "serious reservations," and acknowledged to the Denver Post that the legislation "isn't perfect." That's a nice way to describe depriving millions of workers the right to a secret ballot in workplace elections. After lo these many months, Mark Udall still hasn't had to explain how he can be so out of step with Coloradans and Western values.

17 comments:

Conrad said...

No legislation is perfect, that's true. But the Employee Free Choice Act legislation isn't even close to being sound or democratic. This is a clear power grab by Big Labor and their democrat buddies. This not only takes away the American right to a private ballot, but will rapidly increase the growth of unions, which are dying because they aren't a viable organization in modern America. They hamper production and fatten the wallets of union bosses and democrat candidates at the expense of workers. Tell Mark Udall NO to EFCA.

Curious Stranger said...

"The initial question is part of a broader ad campaign by a group called Coloradans for Employee Freedom that questions Mark Udall's support for EFCA and wonders aloud: "Shouldn't your vote still be private?""

Ben, I couldn't help but notice that your boss is on the steering committee for this particular group. Since you seem so concerned about where Udall's dollars are coming from, perhaps you can ask your boss where Employeee Freedom's dollars come from. The Center for Political Accountability said the following about Employee Freedom (PDF):

""The use of secret organizations to hide the source of political money is at odds with the growing movement among leading U.S. public companies to disclose and require board oversight of their political spending,” said CPA executive director Bruce Freed. “It also may be unlawful. Corporations are prohibited from making contributions in connection with federal elections. Any money received in response to a solicitation indicating that it would be used to influence a federal election is an illegal contribution under Federal Election Commission regulations.""

Could you put your investigative skills to work on this one? It shouldn't be too hard, since your boss is on Employee Freedom's steering committee. I assume he knows who pays his (and your?) bills.

Ben DeGrow said...

Sorry, but I don't do any work for - nor do I receive any type of remuneration from - the 501c4 organization Coloradans for Employee Freedom. Nor do I receive any pay from anyone to write or maintain this blog.

You also make an assumption that members of the steering committee are paid for their service. Look for the group's IRS 990 to find out. But don't assume what neither you nor I know.

In this case, I just happen to think Coloradans for Employee Freedom is 100% right on the Employee Free Choice Act. If you want to attack the 501c4 organization for not following the disclosure requirements of a 527 or candidate committee, go ahead. Write it up on your transparency blog.

When it comes to contributions and spending for political advocacy, I believe in consistent standards of volition and transparency, across the board: as applied to citizens, corporations, and labor unions.

Do you have a basic understanding of campaign finance laws? Because this also involves a recognition of the different types of organizations that participate in politics and the different regulations that govern them. 501c4's are less limited in where they can get their money and how they have to disclose it, and more limited in what they can actually do. The dollars that fund Udall's campaign are subject to stricter disclosure requirements, but are freer in that they can perform direct advocacy. So much for the false parallel.

If you want to change the political organization tax structure or reform campaign finance laws, write about it on your transparency blog.

As for the press release you quoted, well, that's all it is: a press release. A press release from a group funded by PFAW & the Rockefeller Foundation complaining in vague terms that they wish they knew more about Coloradans for Employee Freedom & 2 other groups. Mmm, okay?

But all of this is a distraction from the issue at hand. I find it interesting & revealing that your defense of Mark Udall's cynical-cosponsorship of the Employee Free Choice Act is to point fingers back at the group publicizing the issue. That's because the EFCA legislation truly is indefensible as anything but a sop to Big Labor. Even Lefty George McGovern gets it - do you?

The group's message is accurate. The charge on Mark Udall sticks. Go back and do your homework. Try again.

Curious Stranger said...

You work for the Independence Institute. You are paid for your political positions by Jon Caldera, who is on the Steering Committee for CfEF. I didn't say he was getting paid by them. I was wondering if he, as a member of the Steering Committee, could share who is funding the group's ads and administrative costs.

I am very aware of the differences between the different types of organizations. I'm also very aware that whenever Jon Caldera - your employer - is involved in one of them, magically, they are of the type that doesn't disclose their donors. I suppose we're to think this is just accidental.

Since you're in favor of transparency in political advocacy, and you - an employee of Jon Caldera - are here using a video from an organization "steered" by Jon Caldera, to score political points against Udall on a political issue, I'm sure you're curious about where the money comes from... in the interest of transparency and all.

If there's nothing to hide, then why not disclose?

And FWIW, I don't have a position on the legislation. I just don't like the paper-thin excuses your boss - Jon Caldera - comes up with every single election cycle, for not revealing who is paying his bills.

Ben DeGrow said...

"You are paid for your political positions by Jon Caldera...."

Nope, sorry. I am paid to do work for the 501c3 Independence Institute. Jon Caldara (check your spelling) can't - and won't - tell me what political positions to take, especially on candidates.

Nor do we talk about the various political things we may happen to do outside the Institute. If he & I happen to agree on many (certainly not all) of the same issues, that might explain why we both work for a free market think tank. Try not to be so conspiratorial about it.

Sure I'm curious where CEF's money comes from, but not as "Curious" as you. Why? I agree with them, they make a valid point and are complying with the law in doing so. Just like you're not as curious as I am about the many anonymously-funded 501c4's on the Left.

Good night.

Curious Stranger said...

"Jon Caldara can't - and won't - tell me what political positions to take, especially on candidates"

He doesn't have to. If you didn't agree with him politically, you wouldn't - as you point out - be working at a "free market think tank".

"Just like you're not as curious as I am about the many anonymously-funded 501c4's on the Left."

Well, not just like that, since my boss doesn't end up running one every election cycle and yours does.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

"Confused Straggler" really does like to go off on a tangent, split hairs, and argue about things that are completely off topic.

And ...

And FWIW, I don't have a position on the legislation. ...

Really? What a cop out. Even St. George McGovern thinks the EFCA stinks.

Curious Stranger said...

What tangent? You don't think it's relevant that one of our hosts is employed by a guy who repeatedly skirts campaign finance laws behind a tissue-thin screen of "issues campaigning" which, oddly enough, always smears the Democrat and favors the Republican. If there were ever an example to the contrary, I'd love to hear it.

It's interesting that the only favorable commentors that seem to show up on this blog are from out of state. I wonder why that is.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

Actually, I spend 90% of my time in Colorado because that is where I am employed. I have a house in PA for my wife, a nurse, because she wants to help her elder parents with their medial problems. I see her maybe every other weekend, because there are no suitable jobs for me in Western PA. Pittsburgh has been a one party city for decades. The economy there has flat lined since 1977. Yup, thanks lefties, a 30 year local recession. I have lived in Coloradio since 1985.

Any other stupid nits you would like to pick? Of course, you know nothing about me, but like everything else you spout off about, that does not stop you.

This applies to Campaign Finance Laws 101 which you obviously are clueless on. That is why, IMHO, you are off on a tangent.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

Besides, CS, what difference does it make? Ever hear of the 1st Amendment? What, I can't offer opinion unless it is about politics just in my backyard? A US Senator in a closely divided Senate effects life through out the country.

Who died and left you arbitrator on who should speak or not? Typical leftist, censorship, and ignorance.

Curious Stranger said...

Well, if you spend a lot of time in Colorado, you should be familiar with Jon Caldera and his unique role within the political ecosystem and why it is relevant to this discussion. But, if you still think this is a tangent, let me educate you.

Jon Caldera is the "libertarian" who is, in reality, a shill for big business. He regularly appears at the head of these shady and secretive "non-political" issues groups which bash Democrats to Republican benefit. One of his employees wrote this post we are commenting on, which is about one of these groups, and it is not unreasonable or tangential to take that into consideration when reading anything on this blog.

It's also not unreasonable or tangential to want to know who is funding these attack ads and given that Ben is an employee of Jon Caldera, he has the more access than I to ask such questions, but apparently not the interest.

Curious Stranger said...

"Ever hear of the 1st Amendment? What, I can't offer opinion unless it is about politics just in my backyard?"

I wasn't aware my comments carried the force of law that might violate a constitutional amendment. I'm not a government last I checked.

You're allowed to offer whatever opinions you like, and I'm welcome to draw the conclusion that you aren't very familiar with Colorado politics.

Ben DeGrow said...

CS wrote: "Jon Caldera is the 'libertarian' who is, in reality, a shill for big business. He regularly appears at the head of these shady and secretive 'non-political' issues groups which bash Democrats to Republican benefit."

Why write and shred the last of your credibility? Jon "is a shill for big business"?? Yes, he did the bidding of the Chambers of Commerce in the 2005 Ref C & D battle - oh, wait, no he didn't. Yes, all the businesses that were going to make money off the FasTracks proposal had him doing just what they wanted him to do. Oops, no, wrong again. You are so far off-base here, let me throw you a life preserver to help pull you back in.

The problem stems from your terrible misconceptions about the political tendencies of "big business" (unless you carelessly define "big business" as "any business that I disagree with"). Go do some research on how much money different industries give to Republicans vs. Democrats, and see how little they are driven by ideology for partisanship. Are there some people in big business that support Jon, I.I., and the free market agenda? Yes, of course, though they actually tend to be more protectionist the bigger and more established they become. Is Tim Gill big business? Is Pat Stryker big business?

Wait - what's that sound? Is it your paranoid, simplistically-constructed world view crashing down on you? Let me know if you need a hand cleaning up the debris.

Jon is indeed a small-l libertarian, which means he also is pragmatic. He recognizes, as do many others across the spectrum, that to make progress in the world of ideas you have to get in there and fight. I dare say what drives you mad about him is how effective he has been, even if you don't really get what's going on (in which case you ought not accuse other commenters of being ignorant of the Colorado political scene). You make broad brush accusations about him - in a pathetic attempt to smear me, too - but have no evidence of illegal or unethical activity. Because there is none. You may want to go back and check your misperceptions.

I'm not even sure how Jon became the issue, except that you seem singularly fixated on him while ignoring the real defects of your own candidate (this post is about Mark Udall's co-sponsorship of the poorly-named Employee Free Choice Act) and accusing other commenters of being insufficiently Coloradan. You probably don't even realize how much of a self-parody you have made yourself into with each passing inane comment you add here. A little advice? Stick to the issues.

And Jon's last name is spelled Caldara, not Caldera.

But thanks for adding some humorous spice to an otherwise bland Monday!

Curious Stranger said...

Here's the thing Ben - these sorts of questions could be cleared up real quick if Jon Caldara revealed who funds these efforts. But he never does. Until he does, the only thing I have to go on is your word - and you work for him. If he's not funded by big business, that would become self-evident with some full disclosure. What's he hiding?

Tim Gill and Pat Stryker are open about their political spending - if they weren't, how could you be bringing them up here? I have no particular problem with money in politics, as long as it's accountable, and Jon Caldera does everything in his power to keep his donors unaccountable. Why?

And Jon became the issue because you posted about "a group" releasing this ad without any acknowledgment that you work for someone steering that group. I'm just adding relevant context so folks can make up their own minds.

The rest of this rose out of a supposed Coloradan not understanding how Jon Caldara was relevant to the conversation. Apparently he wasn't aware that you work for him - thus my reasoning for the initial comments.

And once again, on this particular issue, I have no particular feelings one way or the other. I'm of the opinion that unions have outlived a lot of their usefulness and in many cases are more harmful than helpful, but I have no particular problem with folks organizing when they feel there is a need to. In the end, I don't have a dog in the fight.

Curious Stranger said...

Here, I'll get the disclosure started:

Coloradans for Employee Freedom is actually just an alias for the Employee Freedom Action Committee. It's run by Richard Berman who is a Washington DC restaurant and liquor industry lobbyist. Who's paying the bills? Presumably the restaurant and liquor industry. We'll never know though, because they don't disclose.

Amos_thePokerCat said...

"I wasn't aware my comments carried the force of law that might violate a constitutional amendment. I'm not a government last I checked."

Yes, "Confused Straggler", thank God you have no legal authority, but inspite of that, and you do have alot of spite, you are still trying to limit speech. Then again, the things you are not aware of are legion.

Again, tangent. This blog posting was originally about the EFCA, not Caldara, or disclosure. A pathetic childist personal attack against Ben, and me because we have an opinion that you do not share is the definition of a tangent, and a ad hominem attack.

Of course, you have to do this because you can not defend "Udull"'s position on the EFCA.

Does Colorado "Media Morons" disclose? No? Do you attack them too?

Curious Stranger said...

"still trying to limit speech"

You must be awfully weak willed if comments on a blog are limiting your speech. I suggest you man up and press forward despite my oppression.

"Again, tangent. This blog posting was originally about the EFCA, not Caldara, or disclosure."

The local opposition to the EFCA in Colorado *is* Caldara - albeit as a sock puppet for high-powered Washington lawyer-lobbyists doing the restaurant and liquor industries bidding - or did you miss that entire discussion. It is no less of a tangent than discussing Udall's support for it.

"A pathetic childist [sic] personal attack against Ben, and me because we have an opinion that you do not share is the definition of a tangent, and a ad hominem attack."

Again, man up. If you found some sort of " childist [sic] personal attack" in my discussing the fact that Ben works for Jon Caldara, you have some serious victim issues.

And on that note, with the DNC in town and me being quite busy for the next week, I'll leave you for the next few days to go lick the psychic wounds I've inflicted on you with my mean facts.