The debate stems from a proposal the office released last month to slash the annual limit tied to labor donations. Currently, labor unions are allowed to give up to $15,000 annually to a single political candidate, but the draft regulations would set the limit at $1,000, and cap donations to political action committees at $500 and a political party’s committee at $5,000.
While it effectively brings unions under the same limits imposed on individuals, the proposal could alter the state’s political fund-raising landscape by eliminating a decades-old advantage labor organizations have enjoyed in state and local elections. The higher donation limit, set in the 1980s, also applies to nonprofits that aren’t corporate-funded.
The draft regulations, as expected, drew heavy criticism from labor leaders. Richard MacKinnon Jr., president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, said that the rule change would “have a significant impact on our ability to be politically active on behalf of our members.”
Steven A. Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, charged that the change was “unfair” and an “overreach.”
“The proposed changes to this rule would significantly weaken one of the last remaining avenues for working people and community organizations to level the playing field,” he said.
But Sullivan pushed back, arguing that his role isn’t to referee fairness but execute the rules.