The Wall Street Journal

April 16, 2003





Big Labor Republicans




Republicans like to bellow that Democrats are in the pocket of Big Labor. So what are we to make of the 28 House Republic who suddenly want the Bush Administration to drop its proposals for greater union accountability?


The 28 principled souls recently sent Labor Secretary Elaine Chao a letter insisting she withdraw her plans for greater union financial disclosure.  They claim this would be “unduly burdensome” and divert unions from “representing members.”


Funny, but that’s exactly what the new rules would do: help members. Ms. Chao’s proposal would require unions with receipts over $200.000 to fill out expanded LM-2 disclosure forms, which would finally let the rank-and-file know where their mandatory dues go. The only “burden” would be on union bosses, who’d find it harder to make a quick buck (Ullico board members) or abscond with funds (the Washington, D.C., teachers’ union).


It isn’t as if these Republicans have made a career of fretting over the high costs of disclosure. All but one of the 28 on the list nearby voted for Sarbanes-Oxley (at least six were co-sponsors), which imposes strict new reporting and transparency rules on corporations. Another 12 joined Democrats to pass campaign-finance “reform,” which will “burden” every voter in America.


What these Republicans are really worried about is getting re-elected. Most of the signees come from districts with a heavy union presence. Some are also heavily dependent on union cash: Chris Smith, John McHugh, Frank LoBiondo and Jack Quinn all received about half of their PAC money from Labor.




Spencer Bachus (Ala.)


Frank LoBiondo (N.J.)


Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.)


John McHugh (N.Y.)


Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fla.)


Tim Murphy (Pa.)


Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.)


Jack Quinn (N.Y.)


Phil English (Pa.)


Dennis Rehberg (Mont.)


Mike Ferguson (N.J.)


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.)


Mark Green (Wis.)


James Saxton (N.J.)


Amo Houghton (N.Y.)


John Shimkus (Ill.)


Timothy Johnson (Ill.)


Rob Simmons (Conn.)


Sue Kelly (N.Y.)


Chris Smith (N.J.)


Peter King (N.Y.)


John Sweeney (N.Y.)


Ray LaHood (Ill.)


James Walsh (N.Y.)


Steven LaTourette (Ohio


Curt Weldon (Pa.)


Jerry Lewis (Calif.)


Don Young (Alaska)




Politicians do have obligations to their supporters, but they also should have some minimum standards of intellectual consistency. Union corruption is rampant, and one way to reduce it is force labor leaders to open their books in a way that lets members see what happens with the dues they are forced to pay. Somehow we thought that was a Republican principle.

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