Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act are actively pushing a new non-partisan study showing that the lead sponsor of the legislation, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), received more donations from the labor sector ($1.64 million) since 1989 than any of his colleagues.
The findings, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, drive home the classic, cynical, premise that politics is determined by quid-pro-quos. But if that is the standard being set for this debate, then EFCA's foes have a far more daunting fight on their hands.
That's because some of the legislation's chief opponents in Congress have received millions upon millions of dollars from business interests over the course of their careers, and only a pittance from labor. This includes the top ranks of the Republican Party.
After the Employee Free Choice Act was introduced on Tuesday, Danny Diaz, a Republican operative working against the legislation's passage, sent to reporters a compilation of quotes attacking the union-backed measure. Below are the names of the officials quoted with a list of the amount of money they've received from business and labor political action committees.
Sen. Lamar Alexander -- since 2002
$2.79 million from business Political Action Committees (82 percent of PAC donations)
$15,000 from labor PACS (statistically, zero percent)
House Minority Leader John Boehner - since 1989
$7.48 million from business PACS (94 percent)
$200,000 from labor (three percent)
Minority Whip Eric Cantor - since 2000
$5.34 million from business PACS (93 percent)
$42,500 from labor PACS (one percent)
Sen. John Ensign - since 1994
$5.4 million from business PACS (86 percent)
$59,200 from labor PACS (one percent)
Sen. Mike Enzi - since 1996
$3 million from business PACS (89 percent)
$37,500 from labor PACS (one percent)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - since 1989
$7.79 million from business PACS (87 percent)
$43,750 from labor PACS (zero percent)
Rep. Buck McKeon - since 1992
$2.2 million from business PACS (90 percent)
$112,00 from labor PACS (five percent)
Rep. Joe Pitts - since 1996
$1.39 million from business PACS (91 percent)
$32,000 from labor PACS (two percent)
Sen. John Thune - since 1996
$2.5 million from business PACS (71 percent)
$12,000 from labor PACS (zero percent)
* The figures are estimations taken from the Center for Responsive Politics
To be sure, not all business groups are actively engaged in the EFCA fight. Some, though relatively few, are comfortable with the legislation's passage. Moreover, there is a far deeper pool of business PACs willing to donate to politicians than labor ones. But this line of attack only adds to the notion that the business community is bringing more financial clout to the fight. Indeed, the Chamber of Commerce -- the leading force behind killing EFCA in Congress -- spent more on lobbying in 2008 than all labor unions combined. The source of that information: the Center for Responsive Politics.
In fact, the most telling statistic about how skewed this fight actually is might just come from the same study that EFCA's opponents now quote. Since 1989, Harkin -- the lead sponsor of the current bill -- has received $4.3 million in contributions from business PACS, more than 2.5 times what he took in from labor.