Unions Pour Millions into Clinton Foundation

Some contributions reported as political activity

Hillary Clinton
May 18, 2015

Big labor funneled millions of dollars in dues money to the Clinton Foundation, according to a new report.

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR), a union watchdog group, traced at least $2 million in donations from multiple union organizations and affiliates.

"U.S. Department of Labor’s union financial disclosure reports reveal that Big Labor gave at least $2,034,500 in union general treasury funds to Clinton Foundations. Union treasuries are funded mostly by compulsory union dues or fees collected from workers who would be fired for refusing to pay," the NILRR report says. "As Mrs. Clinton became closer to her current run for president, donations amounts appear to have increased."

The Clintons have turned their foundation into a lucrative "slush fund," according to one charity watchdog group, and have received hundreds of millions of dollars from notable businesses, media personalities, and political luminaries. The family has maintained that none of those donations influenced her decisions as secretary of state and that the money is strictly philanthropic.

However, unions did not necessarily agree about the apolitical nature of the donations, according to NILRR.

"Some of these ‘donations’ are categorized by the unions as ‘political’ on their financial disclosure report" to the Labor Department, the report says.

United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices, a national plumbers union, for example, poured in nearly $200,000 through two contributions in 2013; each of those donations was classified as a political activity.

The AFL-CIO, one of the nation’s most influential labor groups, contributed $23,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012 and reported the donation as a political activity. The union lobbied the State Department several times about pending free trade agreements over the course of the year.

Neither the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices nor the AFL-CIO returned a request for comment.

Clinton gave a tepid endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal being negotiated by the Obama administration in her memoir Hard Choices, but has backed away from that position since declaring her presidential candidacy.

A Washington Free Beacon review found that all of the donations unearthed by NILRR were accounted for in the public disclosures that Hillary Clinton pledged to make when she joined the Obama administration. She and the foundation have faced scrutiny for not properly living up to that pledge by author Peter Schweizer, the New York Times, Washington Free Beacon, and numerous other media outlets.

Neither the Clinton Foundation, nor the Clinton campaign returned request for comment.

Patrick Semmens, spokesman for the National Right to Work, said the donations fit into the pattern of Big Labor's political influence peddling.

"Once again union bosses are playing politics with rank-and-file workers’ money, including money from workers who would be fired if they didn’t pay," he said "There’s no question the union officials view two million dollars as a down-payment towards making sure that a Hillary Administration will continue the Obama policy of wielding Executive power to benefit Big Labor at the expense of independent workers and businesses."