Watchdog: Follow the Money

WEDNESDAY WATCHDOG: Union super PAC spending outpaces corporate donors; be careful what you ask for

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Watchdog,Judicial Watch,Campaign Finance,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money,Super PACs

Unions are big spenders among super PAC donors this year, pouring $10 million into the political committees in the first half of 2013, according to a review of federal campaign finance filings by the Center for Public Integrity's Michael Beckel.

That's more than five times what the unions spent on super PACs in the same period in 2011, the last election off-year, and accounts for $1 of every $6 raised by all super PACs in the first half of this year.

Unions have spent more than double corporate donors, which gave $4 million in the first half of 2013. The biggest spender is the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which has given $1.9 million to its own super PAC, Working for Working Americans. AFL-CIO is right behind, sending $1.8 million to its super PAC, Workers’ Voice.

Their spending combined placed unions in two of the top five super PAC donors of 2013 so far. The top spender was the Democratic Governors' Association, followed by the late GOP donor Bob Perry and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Corporations barely made the top 10, with a $1 million donation from Contran Corp. putting it in ninth place. Half of the top 10 were individuals, and three were unions, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in number eight at $1.5 million.

“Super PACs give unions an important new tool in elections,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which advocates for the deregulation of political spending, told Public Integrity.

— Michael Conger

Be careful what you ask for

Hollywood filmmakers received privileged information from the Obama administration about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and it may be coming back to haunt them.

A legal filing in the military commission proceeding of a Guantanamo Bay terrorist cited documents that Judicial Watch, a non-profit government watchdog, obtained.

The documents show that the Obama administration gave the two filmmakers of "Zero Dark Thirty" something they shouldn't have: "unusual access to classified intelligence information."

Now, lawyers in a military trial of the nephew of a Sept. 11 terrorist claim the filmmakers have more information about how the CIA handled their client than they do.

The lawyers "want the military commission judge to order the government to give them uncensored correspondence between the 'Zero Dark Thirty' filmmakers and U.S. officials," according to Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch's filing claimed the "sensitive information released to the filmmakers could cause an 'unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk' if released to the public."

— Kelly Cohen

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