Fact Check: How Much Union Cash Is Pumped Into the Mayoral Race
Mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer claimed unions donated 80 percent of all the cash in the mayor’s race to support opponent David Alvarez.
Statement: “And the fact that labor unions are spending 80 percent of all funds (in) the entire race supporting David Alvarez, they’re not standing up for our neighborhoods. They want additional benefits and salaries that this city can’t afford,” mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer said at a Jan. 15 debate.
Analysis: Kevin Faulconer has made the same argument at every mayoral debate this year: David Alvarez is bankrolled by unions and that’ll compromise his ability to take a hard line in labor negotiations.
In at least two recent mayoral forums, Faulconer claimed unions have spent 80 percent of all funds in the mayor’s race in hopes of electing Alvarez.
So which is it? Did unions donate 80 percent of the cash in the entire race, or 80 percent of the money that’s gone just to Alvarez?
In light of the somewhat inconsistent rhetoric, and the fact that Faulconer himself has been endorsed by a union, we decided to take a closer look at Faulconer’s claim that unions have donated well over three-quarters of the cash in the mayor’s race.
We quickly determined that statement is off.
Inewsource’s handy campaign finance tool shows the candidates and the independent committees backing them have raised about $7.1 million since the race kicked off last fall, at least through Sunday.
Far less than 80 percent of that cash came from unions giving to Alvarez, as you can see here.
The majority of union cash in the race has been funneled through a political action committee sponsored by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, a regional umbrella group for area labor groups.
The PAC has amassed about $3.4 million to support Alvarez. That’s not chump change – but it only makes up about 48 percent of total donations in the mayor’s race.
Still, it does constitute at least 83 percent of the total cash that’s gone toward Alvarez’s candidacy.
Organizations including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union have each donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Labor Council’s independent expenditure committee.
On Monday, the Faulconer campaign called a press conference to advertise Alvarez’s union support and released a breakdown of union donations based on Inewsource data.
But Faulconer has union support too.
The San Diego Police Officers Association endorsed him earlier this month, and the union’s most recent political action committee expenditure reports note it recently spent about $30,000 on pro-Faulconer campaign literature, robo-calls and email blasts.
Most of the numbers included here captured donations or spending reported through Sunday. The police union, however, provided more recent documentation to Voice of San Diego, including a disclosure filed Monday.
Other groups have brought in far more cash for Faulconer. Money-wise, Faulconer’s most prominent outside backers are campaign committees that receive major funding from the Lincoln Club of San Diego County, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Associated General Contractors of America, all groups that support business interests.
Together, these groups have raised about $1.2 million for Faulconer, less than the roughly $3.4 million the Labor Council has collected to support Alvarez.
The latter amount makes up more than 80 percent of donations that back Alvarez’s candidacy. That means Faulconer is correct when he says that 80 percent of his opponent’s financial support comes from unions.
“There’s no question that the entire viability of David Alvarez’s candidacy is based on labor unions, which are spending far, far more than any other interest group in this election — and currently make up over 80 percent of Alvarez’s support,” a Faulconer spokesman wrote in an email Tuesday. “We invite San Diegans to visit inewsource.org and compare Alvarez’s lopsided funding with the Faulconer effort, which is receiving the majority of its support from individuals and San Diegans.”
But Faulconer mischaracterizes the situation when he says more than 80 percent of all cash in the entire mayor’s race comes from unions.
Union donations to Alvarez make up only about half of total funds raised in the race.
That’s far less than an 80 percent total union investment in the mayor’s race, as Faulconer has sometimes claimed. That statement is false.
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.