Anti-Worker Koch Brothers
Loom Large in Mich. Senate Race
August 7, 2014
|In Michigan, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has already spent millions in secret donor cash this year on attack ads against labor-friendly Senate candidate Gary Peters.
Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr userNick Ares.
One of the biggest stories already shaping up in this year’s election cycle is the influence of deep-pocketed, extremist organizations and their fight against everyday American workers.
In Michigan, organizations like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity – which promotes right-to-work laws, ending collective bargaining and eliminating the minimum wage – has sewn itself into the fabric of a close U.S. Senate race between labor-friendly candidate Rep. Gary Peters and challenger Terri Lynn Land. The group has already spent millions this year on ads against Peters.
Detroit Local 58 recording secretary and registrar Jeannette Bradshaw said the attack ads stem from one fact. “Gary is pro-union, all the way,” she said. “Whenever we have needed him on anything for IBEW members across Michigan, he’s been there.”
Peters was elected in 2008 to serve the state’s 14th district, which includes about 700,000 residents of eastern Detroit and surrounding suburbs. In 2012, he voted for the use of project labor agreements on federal military construction projects. He currently has a 100 percent voting rating from the IBEW, along with a lifetime score of 95 percent from the AFL-CIO, according to Project Vote Smart.
Americans for Prosperity has funded anti-worker ads and lobbied lawmakers who supported ending collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Ohio and beyond over the last three years. In Michigan, the group backed Gov. Rick Snyder’s successful 2012 push to pass right-to-work legislation. AFP’s executive director in the state said the group’s goal was to “take the unions out at the knees”:
As former Michigan secretary of state, Land ruled in 2004 that contributions to so-called issue ads in Michigan could be kept secret and are immune from the state’s campaign finance act. The ruling was a response to a Michigan Chamber of Commerce request for legal assurance that the names of donors funding the group’s issue ads would not be public record. Such ads are exactly the types run by groups like Americans for Prosperity and are usually crafted to discredit or damage a candidate.
The Huffington Post reported in June that Land, a Republican, received at least $4.6 million in secret outside spending from groups that do not disclose individual donors.
The biggest contributor? Americans for Prosperity – which has already spent more than $3 million to attack Peters on Land’s behalf.
Bradshaw said Peters, a Democrat, can frequently be found at labor day parades and at pro-worker rallies alongside union members. “The crowd loves him,” she said.
“We’re already doing literature drops for Rep. Peters and other pro-labor candidates, and we plan to do much more,” Bradshaw said. “We don’t have the money machine that Terri Lynn Land has, but our candidate is up in the polls and is on the right side of the issues for Michigan’s working families.”
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