(CNSNews.com) – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) political action committee made more than $27 million in independent expenditures in support of President-elect Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, according to a filing the PAC made with the Federal Election Commission.
SEIU-affiliated groups in Illinois have long supported Obama’s campaigns and endorsed him for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2004. In 2008, the national union backed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The SEIU calls itself the fastest growing union in North America, with 1.1 million members in health care fields, 225,000 members who are building cleaning and security workers, and 850,000 state and local government employees.
The union has been in the news recently after it was mentioned in the criminal complaint against Illinois’s Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Neither the union nor Obama is alleged to have done anything wrong in the Blagojevich scandal. And both have denied any involvement.
The SEIU's Committee on Political Education (SEIU COPE), the union’s political action committee, which is funded by contributions from union members, contributed $10,000 to Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
When Obama was facing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Democratic presidential primary season that lasted until June, the SEIU announced in February it was backing Obama.
“This is about more than one election,” SEIU National President Andy Stern said in announcing the endorsement of Obama. “It’s about building the next generation of America,” he said. “Barack Obama is creating the broadest and deepest coalition of voters we’ve ever seen.”
The political action committee SEIU COPE spent $27,829,845.91 in independent expenditures in support of Obama in the presidential election, according to an FEC filing made by the group on Nov. 3 – the day before the election. Independent expenditures are not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
“Members choose to contribute to COPE,” SEIU spokeswoman Ali Jost told CNSNews.com. “The average contribution is $5 per month. It’s little people making a big difference.”
Jost said the union’s accountants were still researching the final tally of independent expenditures spent on Obama’s election. Regarding the $27.8 million figure in the FEC filing, she said, “We are very good at providing the appropriate numbers to them, so I think that it’s safe to assume that is correct.”
The SEIU Web site boasts of the union’s effort in helping to get Obama elected, saying members knocked on 1.87 million doors, made 4.4 million phone calls, registered 85,914 voters and sent more than 2.5 million pieces of mail in support of Obama. Another statement says SEIU leaders visited seven states in the final weekend before the election to get out the vote for Obama and other candidates.
In a July 18 report to the FEC, the PAC reported having spent a year-to-date total of $96,379 on independent expenditures to support Obama’s election. An Aug. 4 report showed that it climbed to $1,110,625.31. In the Aug. 20 report to the FEC, it climbed to $3,919,905.31, according to the filing with the FEC. In the Sept. 14 report, it had almost doubled to $7,239,363.93.
As the election neared, the PAC’s independent expenditures in support of Obama’s presidential campaign continued to escalate. By Oct. 1, they had climbed to $9,199,461.14; in an Oct. 25 report, to $13,532,289.05; in an Oct. 30 report, to $19,956,126.77; and to $26,474,776.91 in a Nov. 1 report to the FEC.
The most recent report on SEIU COPE’s independent expenditures on behalf of Obama was filed on Nov. 3, according to the FEC. It shows the PAC by that point had made $27,829,845.91 in independent expenditures in support of Obama’s election.