Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Union-Backed Anti-Reform Pol Shamed Out of His Chair (Update)

On Friday we blogged about Colorado State Representative Mike Merrifield, who speculated that “[t]here must be a special place in Hell for these Privatizers, Charerizers, and Voucherizers! They deserve it!” At the time of his comments, Merrifield was chairman of the state House Education Committee, having been buoyed in his political career by money from the Colorado Education Association and a host of other unions.

No more. Merrifield has had to fall on his sword and step down from his influential post, the Associated Press reports.

UPDATE: I originally wrote on Friday:

Anyone experienced in school reform won’t be surprised to find out that, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Merrifield’s top donor in his 2006 re-election campaign was the Colorado Education Association. In fact, Merrifield received a staggering 70 percent of his campaign chest from organized labor — out of his top ten donors in 2006, all ten were labor unions.

It turns out that I misread the campaign finance data provided. The first graphical representation of Merrifield’s financial backing indeed indicates that he received 71.2 percent of his support from organized labor. However, this is in fact a subset of Merrifield’s total backing, of which 29.48 percent comes from labor unions. That’s still the single largest special interest funding Merrifield by far, with labor having given more money than all the other identified special interests combined.

It also appears that Merrifield’s finance data has been updated in the last few days (probably as a result of the increased attention his political career’s been getting). The updated records indicate that Merrifield’s top twelve donors (not ten as previously reported) were labor unions. The Colorado Education Association, meanwhile, still occupies the #1 slot for donations, but it now shares that distinction with four other unions.

(Hat tip to Fey Accompli on the resignation story, and to Colorado Media Matters for pointing out the finance chart’s selective nature.)

Categories: Entitlements CrisisTeachers Unions