State of Michigan Should Not Become Collection Agency for PACs

The Michigan Civil Service Commission should reject the governor’s request to aid public-sector employee unions in political activity, says Center’s senior legal analyst

For Immediate Release
Monday, Dec. 10, 2007

Patrick J. Wright
Senior Legal Analyst

MIDLAND — Mackinac Center Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright today called on the Michigan Civil Service Commission to reject an attempt by the Michigan Office of the State Employer to enable the state to undertake payroll deductions for public-sector union political action committees. Under the OSE’s request, the state Civil Service Commission would permit state agencies, in return for a fee from public-sector unions, to deduct consenting public employees’ contributions to a union PAC from their state-issued paycheck. The OSE’s director is appointed by, and reports to, the governor, and the OSE will present its request to the commission on Dec. 19.

“The state attorney general correctly concluded last year that this payroll deduction would be in direct conflict with state law,” noted Wright, “but even worse is the precedent this action would set as public policy. The OSE’s responsibility to deal with the unions in collective bargaining in no way carries over to the unions’ political activities. If state agencies are empowered to perform payroll deductions that benefit union PACs, why shouldn’t this opportunity be afforded to other political activists, such as the National Rifle Association, the National Organization for Women, the Sierra Club, National Right-to-Life or the PACs of the Republican and Democratic parties? Even if the state received a fee that fully reimbursed the cost of collecting each of these political contributions, the state would shed its neutrality and become a facilitator of special-interest politics.”