When is lobbying not considered lobbying?
A report from Media Trackers PA makes clear that lobbying is not lobbying when a union boss says so.
It turns out that a number of Pennsylvania union bosses have never bothered to register as lobbyists despite spending a considerable amount of time interacting with members of the General Assembly:
“Wendell W. Young IV, head of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776; Rick Bloomingdale and Frank Snyder, president and secretary treasurer of the state AFL-CIO respectively; and David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union are not registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
“Under the state law, passed in 2006, lobbying includes all ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ communication ‘the purpose or foreseeable outcome of which is to effect legislative action or administrative action.’
“…U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) documents also confirm the union bosses lobby, with Young admitting he spends at least eight percent of his time on “political activities and lobbying.” Young’s 2013 salary was $292,765…Fillman’s DOL data states he spends 15 percent of his time on the “political activities and lobbying. His salary was $205,000 in 2013.”
To make matters even worse, it appears the UFCW is miscategorizing some of its political activity on paperwork filed with the US Department of Labor.
The 2006 lobbying law that the union bosses are clearly flaunting gives authority to the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute violations of the law. Now that this situation has been brought to light, we would hope that the Attorney General Kane would launch an investigation into what is clearly illegal activity on the part of some union bosses.
If the purpose of the law is to establish some level of transparency when it comes to lobbying activities, it will only achieve that goal when everyone plays by the same rules.