By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
In its fight to kill a right-to-work bill headed for a veto-override in the state Legislature, The Committee Protect MO Families has almost everything — a great name, Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto, and a “broad-based coalition” of hundreds of supporting businesses and individuals.
But 98 percent of the group’s funding comes from just one source, Carpenters Help In the Political Process, or CHIPP.
CHIPP is a political action committee run by the Carpenters’ District Council of St. Louis & Vicinity. Like Protect MO Families, CHIPP operates out of the union’s St. Louis headquarters. Martin Walter, a business agent for the union, is the treasurer for both CHIPP and Protect MO Families.
Protect MO Families was created by the Carpenters’ District Council of St. Louis & Vicinity in 2013, according to a disclosure filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Since its creation, Protect MO Families has received campaign contributions totaling more than $1.3 million. In the past year, Protect MO Families has received $740,000 from CHIPP and just $1,015 from all other donors combined.
Most of the non-CHIPP donations to Protect MO Families have come from Carpenters’ District Council employees and from other labor unions.
Why did Carpenters’ District Council of St. Louis & Vicinity create a separate PAC to fight right-to-work, when the union already had CHIPP?
Unlike “Carpenters Help In the Political Process,” the name “Protect MO Families” doesn’t suggest any connection to the Carpenters or any other labor union.
Anyone who knows that right-to-work laws allow workers to opt out of paying union dues would expect unions to be against it — so unions fight right-to-work from behind “broad-based coalitions” with harmless names.
RELATED: Here’s why unions hate right-to-work
No disclaimer or explanation on the Protect MO Families website, Facebook page or Twitter timeline acknowledges the PAC is funded by the Carpenters’ union and operates from Carpenters’ union headquarters.
The Carpenters’ District Council and other unions are using Protect MO Families to keep the Republican supermajority in the Legislature from overriding the Democrat governor’s veto of right-to-work.
According to Protect MO Families, right-to-work is part of a “war on the middle class” being waged by “corporate extremists and self-interested politicians.”
That’s intentionally misleading, Americans for Prosperity deputy state director Rachel Payton told Watchdog.org. AFP-Missouri staff and volunteers have encouraged lawmakers to support right-to-work.
“We have 72,000 activists in Missouri,” Payton said. “These are hard-working Missourians that are worried about making our state a better state. I think protecting Missouri families is about actually protecting and growing our economy, so Missourians can stay in Missouri and follow their dreams in Missouri, instead of chasing their dreams elsewhere.”
Payton said it’s her group that actually protects Missouri families. She said she has lived in Missouri since she was 12 years old, and doesn’t want to see her children leave the state to find work.
Protect MO Families and Carpenters’ District Council of St. Louis & Vicinity failed to respond to questions from Watchdog.org about the campaign.