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October 22, 2010


Thanks for the cogent "hey, that thing you said does not make sense" overview.

But now we are the proverbial person with two watches who doesn't know what time it is.

So, what time IS it?

NYT says that it is looking at Federal races. I'm betting the unions spend most at state or local levels.

Might get us part way there.

I read an analysis this morning (that I can't find now but here's a http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1010/The_spending_we_dont_know_about.html>Ben Smith version,) that indicated part of the difference was that the NYT figures were using money already disclosed while the WSJ added in the numbers that the organization promised to spend.

Did either note that unions are required, by a seperate law, to disclose where they've donated money?

It's rather hard to compare, say, SEIU expenditures with Chamber of Congress ones because the SEIU is effectively operating under a union-only DISCLOSE act, and the Chamber...isn't.

Ben Smith's Politico piece that Jay S links to above does seem to answer the questions reasonably clearly.

As well as Morat20's point, which is discussed in Smith's piece, there's this:

[...] The Indy is right that the basic difference is that the Times is looking at disclosed spending, while the Journal is comparing promised spending.

But there's another difference as well: The independent expenditures disclosed daily to the FEC are limited to communications. Groups that disclose all their activities, like the party committees, will ultimately disclose their spending on other costs — field operatives, polling — but haven't yet. Unions like AFSCME will disclose those costs — along with unregulated "member-to-member" communications within their own ranks — in their annual report with the Department of Labor, well after the election. Crossroads GPS on the right and the liberal 501(c)(4) groups around America Votes on the left will never disclose their spending on field.

We're left, then, either relying for now on groups' claims or on partial tallies.

No matter how gluttonous devouring all the time, we need to breathe at this time, and strive to win our reputation, the sickle of time can not hurt us. - William Shakespeare

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