Labor Watch

Banking with the SEIU to Fund a Radical Anti-Immigration Republican?

Amalgamated Bank—the financial institution established by the predecessors of Unite Here and now owned by the Workers United division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—is proudly left-progressive, declaring itself a “forceful advocate for public policy.” Its associated provider of donor-advised funds, Amalgamated Charitable Foundation, runs the Hate Is Not Charitable Campaign demanding that other fund providers refuse to channel donor contributions to “hate groups,” including mainstream social-conservative and immigration-restriction groups, as identified by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

So why did an Amalgamated client spend roughly $5 million to back the nomination of a militantly immigration-restrictionist Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas?

Primary Mischief

The answer is obvious upon reflection. Sunflower State PAC evidently thought that Democrats could more easily win the general election against its favored GOP candidate Kris Kobach (R), who had lost the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial election. Sunflower State PAC, an Amalgamated Bank client, was the largest spender in the Republican primary election to replace retiring U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).

So, to better the Democrats’ electoral prospects, Amalgamated Bank provided banking services to a PAC that effectively supports a candidate whom the SPLC has repeatedly targeted as associated with “hate groups.” Sunflower State’s vendors, most notably Old Town Media, are also Democratic-aligned, with Old Town serving as an advertising booker for a super PAC supporting former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and for the Democratic primary campaign of left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Such unprincipled behavior to support meddling in other-party primaries is not uncommon—it even has an illustrative name that is unprintable on a family website, one it shares with other political dirty tricks. Perhaps most notably, the Senate Majority PAC associated with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ran ads during the 2012 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Missouri to benefit then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). Akin won the nomination and then infamously imploded in the general election, securing reelection for then-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

A meddlesome advocacy group can also try a more “aboveboard” approach to interference in the “other” party’s affairs—namely, backing the less-committed candidates who might defect from ideological alignment on issues important to the advocacy group and its backers. The left-leaning PAC Unite America, backed by the liberal members of the Murdoch family, especially James Murdoch’s wife Kathryn, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing more liberal candidates in Republican state legislative primaries.

But sometimes it backfires. John Podesta, chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, named three “Pied Piper” candidates that Democrats should talk up in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. They were Ted Cruz, now a reelected U.S. Senator from Texas; Ben Carson, now the secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Donald Trump, now the president of the United States.

Politics over Principle

That risk of a backfire shows just how shallow Amalgamated’s opposition to supposed “hate” is. Given a chance to nick a Senate seat that Democrats have not won since World War I, Amalgamated let a super PAC that banks with it run ads to benefit the nomination campaign of a man it considers a hate-monger, per its chosen adjudicator of “hate.”

As so often happens in the world of Big Labor, Amalgamated chose politics over principle.

Michael Watson

Michael is Research Director for Capital Research Center and serves as the managing editor for InfluenceWatch. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, he previously worked for a…
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