Friday, July 17, 2009

If your friends are conservatives then you won't need any enemies

Just in case you don't know how the conservative money machine works, the American Conservative Union got caught in the shakedown in a legislative dispute between FedEx and UPS.

The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO...

In the three-page letter asking for money on June 30, the conservative group backed FedEx. After FedEx says it rejected the offer, Keene signed onto a two-page July 15 letter backing UPS. Keene did not return a message left on his cell phone.

The whole dispute is about a bill which would make it easier for the Teamsters union to unionize FedEx. UPS is already organized by the Teamsters. FedEx has resisted unionization but UPS and the Teamsters believe that organizing FedEx would help ensure uniform labor standards throughout the industry.

As a supporter of unions as a progressive force for workplace rights and equality (in fact I once helped start a union at a former workplace,) I back UPS in the dispute. I'm up front about that and certainly don't expect anything for my support. I support the legislation because I believe it's the right thing to do. One would think that principled conservatives if they really believed that unionization was a bad thing wouldn't have to ask for money to support FedEx in this case, but would do it just because that's what they believe in. Ah, but that assumes that conservatives have principles. And at least in the case of the American Conservative Union, it appears that they don't have any, at least any that can't be bought.

Oh, yeah. There apparently is one thing they still do stand for.

Maury Lane, FedEx’s director of corporate communications, said: “Clearly, the ACU shopped their beliefs and UPS bought.”

ACU's executive vice president, Dennis Whitfield, said that neither the group nor David Keene, the chairman, took any money from UPS.

Just two weeks earlier, ACU had offered its endorsement to FedEx, saying in a letter to the company: “We stand with FedEx in opposition to this legislation.”

But there was a catch — an expensive one. ACU asked FedEx to pay as much as $3.4 million for e-mail and other services for “an aggressive grass-roots campaign to stop the legislation in the Senate.”

Granted, it's hard to believe anything that the ACU says about this but if Mr. Whitfield's assertion is true, then they endorsed UPS's position on the legislation for a different reason-- solely that they were rebuffed by FedEx. In which case they do stand for something-- SPITE!

"You don't let us watch your back, then we stick the knife in it ourselves."

Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby would be proud.

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