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Labor Group Rakes In $1.3M

The Partnership for America’s Families, a fundraising entity formed earlier this year with strong ties to organized labor, raised about $1.3 million in its first three months of existence, according to a report recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

The group received the vast majority of its funds from three titans in the labor movement — the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — between April 1 and June 30.

The AFL-CIO, where Rosenthal previously worked as political director, donated $500,000; the national SEIU and its New York local both chipped in $250,000, as did AFSCME.

Interestingly, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee resigned his post as chairman of the partnership’s board of directors in May (roughly a month after the donation), following a blowup with Rosenthal.

McEntee and several other board members — including the AFL-CIO’s Linda Chavez-Thompson and former New York state Comptroller Carl McCall — accused Rosenthal of not doing adequate outreach into minority communities, a charge that Rosenthal and his allies have vehemently denied.

SEIU President Andrew Stern replaced McEntee on the board; McEntee went on to form a separate 527 group—Voices for Working Families—with strong labor ties as well.

The two-headed labor solution was seen as a peace settlement between Rosenthal and McEntee negotiated by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

The controversy did little to hamper the partnership’s fundraising, however, as it brought in roughly $1.3 million during the period and disbursed $519,000.

“We are happy with our fundraising,” said Sujata Tejwani, spokeswoman for the Partnership. She added that her group and Voices for Working Families were already working together “to make sure we are not duplicating tasks.”

The group is one of several started by Democratic strategists and activists in the wake of passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which banned national party committees from raising and spending soft money.

Rosenthal’s group is a 527 organization that can accept unlimited contributions but must report its activities to the Internal Revenue Service. It is seen as one of the primary conduits for the financial largess of labor unions, which donated $90 million to Democrats in the previous cycle.

But a number of other groups have been founded by well-connected Democrats from outside the labor movement.

The American Majority Institute, founded by Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, has filed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, which means that it can accept unlimited contributions without disclosing the sources of those dollars.

Americans Coming Together, an umbrella organization that is headed by EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm with an assist from Rosenthal, received $10 million in seed money from financier George Soros earlier this year and plans to spend roughly $75 million on the 2004 elections. It has both a hard- money political action committee and a 527 for soft-money contributions.

Out of the three, only the partnership has filed a report detailing its finances. The group has also made some intriguing disbursements.

The most interesting donation was to a group known as the Millennium Action Coalition (MACPAC) that has close ties to the re-election campaign of Philadelphia Mayor John Street (D).

While Street is facing re-election this year, the partnership is undoubtedly hoping to create a favorable political climate in Pennsylvania heading to 2004.

Democrats have high hopes of defeating Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who first has to survive a GOP primary, and keeping Pennsylvania in the Democratic column in the presidential race.

The partnership doled out $100,000 to MACPAC on April 22. Street campaign officials have said the group is a contractor for the campaign providing primarily voter registration services.

Street’s opponent, businessman Sam Katz (R), has questioned the group’s close ties to the mayor (the campaign and MACPAC share office space) and the dearth of reporting on its financial activities.

MACPAC has not filed a report in either the Keystone State or with the IRS detailing its financial contributions and expenditures.

The partnership’s largest disbursement of the period was to the National Committee for an Effective Congress, a targeting company run by Democratic numbers guru Mark Gersh.

The group doled out $175,000 to NCEC for “political consulting services”; the Dewey Square Group also received a $10,000 consulting fee.

Rosenthal received $24,000 in salary from the group between April 1 and June 30. He is one of six employees drawing a regular salary, according to the IRS report.

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