Whose Money Talks in Massachusetts Politics?

The Occupy Boston protesters still have a variety of viewpoints represented, but a clear theme is a rejection of corporate influence that they view as having taken over politics.

At the same time, the success of the protests in generating attention has attracted the labor movement, which sees a popular vehicle for their goals.

If you’d allow me to take the focus down to the specifics of Massachusetts politics for a moment, I’d urge the Occupy Boston folks to think long and hard about what influence money has over politics here and who wields that influence.

Take a look at the top 20 PAC donors in Massachusetts from 2010 — 16 of the top 20 PACs were labor-related. Put another way, from this group of PACs, more than 80 percent of the dollars came from labor PACs.

Next, take a look at the new head of the AFL-CIO, Steve Tolman. Who gave him money while he was in office? The main answer is we don’t know — almost 60 percent of his donations fail to note the employer of the donor.

From the limited group where the donor is listed, lots of interesting names emerge: well-heeled lobbyists and government relations-types, executives of large financial and development firms, and, of course, various union officials.

Did Tolman do anything illegal or unethical here? No, and many of his former colleagues have done similar things.

So, Occupants, if you are concerned about the role of money in politics here in Massachusetts — look at who is giving the money and who is getting it first before you get too close to your new friends.


Crossposted at Pioneer Institute’s blog.