Nation: NFIB Ads Hit Franken, Allen on Unionizing Bill

Posted October 6, 2008 at 6:30pm

The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ SAFE Trust political action committee has purchased more than $1 million in advertisements in the Maine and Minnesota Senate races.

The buy targets Democratic Senate candidates Rep. Tom Allen (Maine), running against Sen. Susan Collins (R), and comedian Al Franken, running against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). Both Collins and Coleman voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, a labor union-backed bill that was defeated in the Senate but is expected to come up again in the next Congress.

The PAC would not say how much of the buy — which includes broadcast and network television, print, radio and direct mail — was going toward each state.

The television advertisement highlights the part of the bill that would give unions the option of knowing which — but not how — potential members have voted in union elections. Topped off with a CIA surveillance theme, the ad features several men who appear to be spying on a supposed union worker headed to the polls.

“Yet after receiving a fortune in contributions from organized labor, Tom Allen voted for a law that strips Maine workers of their right to vote in private when deciding whether to unionize,” an announcer says in the ad.

Mary Beth Maxwell, the executive director for the pro-labor group American Rights at Work called the spot an “entertaining manipulation of the facts behind” EFCA.

“The truth is that the bill supports the democratic right to a free choice to form a union and does not eliminate a private vote,” Maxwell said. “Workers need real policies to help get by in this struggling economy, not more cheap political attacks from those who wish to deny workers the opportunity to get ahead.”

Senate Confirms Four EAC Commissioners

The Senate last week confirmed former House Administration Committee lawyer Gineen Beach to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Election Assistance Commission. Beach replaces Caroline Hunter on the four-member panel, which oversees federal polling-place issues. Her term expires in December 2009.

“Gineen brings a unique and valuable contribution to EAC, having served in positions that focuses on both state and federal election law,” EAC Chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Last week, the Senate also re-confirmed Rodriguez, Donetta Davidson, a Republican, and Gracia Hillman, a Democrat, to second terms at the EAC.

Weekend Computer Shutdown Is Still On

The Social Security Administration’s GOP Chairman Michael Astrue said last week that the agency is proceeding with a planned computer shutdown during the Columbus Day weekend, brushing aside concerns by Democrats and voting-rights advocates that the outage could hamper voter-registration efforts.

“As many Americans are enjoying Columbus Day weekend, the hardworking men and women of the Social Security Administration will be working intensely to satisfy every reasonable expectation of service, including voter registration verifications,” Astrue said in a statement. “I regret that people unfamiliar with the facts of this situation have sought to create a partisan issue where there is none.”

Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Democratic-nominated Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez both have asked Astrue in recent weeks to delay his agency’s Oct. 11-13 shutdown of its online computer network, which state election officials use to verify new voter data.