Service Employees start campaign to expose secret campaign donors

WASHINGTON - The Service Employees have become one of several leading organizations creating a campaign to expose big corporate donors, who are secretly funding so-called 'SuperPACs,' and to drive them out of politics.

The campaign, announced in a Mar. 12 press conference at headquarters here of the Service Employees International Union, will use everything from publicity to boycotts to lawsuits to shame the firms and prevent them from controlling the political process through money, sponsors said.

They're starting with a $25,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with inside information about a corporation's hidden funding of a SuperPAC.

The groups launched their drive as reports circulated of ever-increasing checks to and spending by the SuperPACs, especially in the Republican presidential primary race. One such donor, Las Vegas casino multimillionaire Sheldon Adelson, has bankrolled the SuperPAC supporting the presidential bid by ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with $11 million. The groups cited that as a prime example of corruption.

Some have criticized the labor movement for forming its own SuperPAC in response to the corporate power grab in the electoral arena.

But there are differences between the AFL-CIO's SuperPAC and the corporate-funded committees, said Ethan Romm of Health Care for America Now, a group working in coalition with SEIU. Unions, he said, are led by democratically elected officials and must be responsible to their members; corporations are not. "And in the 2010 campaign, [regular] corporate PACs outspent union PACs 20-to-1," he added.

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