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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Democratic/liberal

Spending target: Unknown

One of the most influential groups in Washington, SEIU represents about 2.1 million workers in health care, government service and property service professions. In the 2012 campaign cycle, all SEIU-affiliated political action committees and organizations spent a total of $68.3 million, collectively making it the fifth highest spending non-party group, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports.

The union’s most active PAC, SEIU Committee on Political Education (COPE), spent $13.7 million during the 2012 elections on TV ads and other communications advocating for the election or defeat of candidates. Much of that money went to help re-elect President Obama.

It spent $1.1 million supporting Obama and $3.6 million opposing Mitt Romney, his GOP challenger. In all, the PAC spent $11.5 million attacking over 40 GOP candidates.

The group’s website says SEIU COPE “is made up of 300,000 SEIU members, staff and retirees who contribute an average of $7 a month.” Only 15 individuals contributed more than $200 to the PAC in the 2012 cycle — the largest donation being $1,200. As of May 19, no donations above $200 have been made for the 2014 cycle.

A spokesman declined to discuss the union’s fundraising goals for the current election cycle, but all SEIU-affiliated PACs and groups, combined, have spent nearly $27.5 million as of mid-June.

In 2013, the union pushed strongly to overhaul federal immigration laws.

SEIU COPE spent over $500,000 on TV ads challenging House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans in swing districts on immigration issues. That was in addition to $2.5 million that group said it had spent on “paid media in a multi-pronged field and legislative campaign to pass commonsense immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.”

As of June 17, COPE has spent $1.3 million on independent expenditures, much of which was spent in the 2013 special election.

The PAC spent $569,531 in support of then-Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who won a special election last year to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s old seat. It also spent $47,000 on radio ads against Democrat Deborah Halvorson, who sought her party’s nomination in the special election to replace Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Halvorson lost the nomination to Robin Kelly, who eventually won the 2nd Congressional District seat.

For the 2014 cycle, COPE has spent $312,700 against Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land of Michigan.

Fact-checking Service Employees International Union (SEIU):

SEIU Distorts Halvorson’s Record in Illinois Race, Feb. 22, 2013