Barry Kauffman of Common Cause Pennsylvania commented in the news story “Corbett, election aides met in office, raising ‘appearance' of illegality” that “(p)ublic resources are not supposed to be used for partisan political purposes.” We agree.
But Mr. Kauffman and other critics were simply referring to allowing campaign staff to participate in a meeting held in the state Capitol. At the same time, Kauffman and other critics have been silent about, or even supportive of, using taxpayer resources to collect campaign contributions in that same state Capitol.
In Pennsylvania, public resources — including staff time and payroll systems — are used to collect political action committee (PAC) contributions that can be given directly to candidates. The state treasurer alone collects and transmits more than $700,000 each year to union PACs, while school districts and local governments collect millions of dollars more. This is on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars that taxpayers pay to collect government union dues that are given to “super PACs” to fund election ads.
These services offered to union leaders to collect their political money have real and measurable costs. While the marginal costs of payroll deduction for union PACs may be small, it is infinitely more than the nonexistent cost of a campaign staffer sitting in a taxpayer-funded chair for a meeting.
That's why we hope Common Cause and other so-called “good government” reformers will support us in fighting for paycheck protection.
Nathan A. Benefield
The writer is vice president of policy analysis at the Commonwealth Foundation (CommonwealthFoundation.org).