Fact-checking a claim about Koch versus union spending

I signed a petition from Credo Action “urging PBS affiliate WGBH to remove David Koch from the Board of Trustees and Science Visiting Council because of his anti-science positions.”  After I signed the petition, it through up a fund-raising appeal from ActBlue containing the following claim:

The Koch brothers spent over $400 million in 2012—more than twice as much as the 10 largest unions combined.

Their network of shadow groups are pushing a radical right-wing agenda that is anti-healthcare, anti-climate science, and anti-worker—An agenda is designed to prop up big corporations and keep working people down.

I certainly oppose the Koch brothers and their toxic ideology but I’m curious about the highlighted claim, and I think that ActBlue should document such claims on their webpages.

In a HuffPost article Unions Gearing Up To Spend Big In 2012 Elections, it says ” Unions are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for labor’s survival.” That article may in fact be consistent with Act Blue’s claim that the 10 largest unions spent less than $200 million: it’s possible that hundreds of unions contributed to the total near $400 million. Or it’s possible that the HuffPost article is wrong, and the total was less than $400 million.

But an article in The Nation, The Koch Brothers Spent Twice as Much on the 2012 Election as the Top Ten Unions Combined, gives more insight and substantiates Act Blue’s claim. Specifically,

For the last election, Koch PACs spent $4.9 million in disclosed contributions (figures that appear on the chart referenced by Strassel). But they also spent over $407 million on undisclosed campaign entities, which does not show up in the CRP chart.

All NRLB-regulated unions, on the other hand, disclose every outside payment…. The money Koch spends as a corporate entity, as it has in the past, may have gone unreported.

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