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Union steers PAC donations toward key Senate races

Feb. 28, 2012 - 06:28PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is one of the candidates the National Treasury Employees Union is backing Senate elections.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is one of the candidates the National Treasury Employees Union is backing Senate elections. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

The National Treasury Employees Union has identified at least three Senate election campaigns to contribute to.

"Obviously, we do want to change the makeup [of Congress] in November," NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said at a news briefing Tuesday, the first day of NTEU's legislative conference. "One way we can do that is to help those who help us."

The Treasury Employees Political Action Committee, or TEPAC, aims to raise roughly $715,000 a 10 percent increase over the $650,000 it usually raises to defeat lawmakers or candidates whom NTEU sees as vulnerable and anti-fed, or to support fed-friendly lawmakers.

TEPAC plans to give money to Nevada Democratic Senate candidate Shelley Berkley to defeat Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said Maureen Gilman, NTEU's legislative and political director. Heller last December proposed extending the pay freeze for three more years to help pay for an extension of the payroll tax cut.

TEPAC also will support Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine who is running against former Republican Sen. George Allen and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is running for an open Senate seat.

TEPAC will mainly focus on Senate candidates this year, Gilman said.

Even though Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has sponsored bills cutting federal benefits, Gilman said his seat is safe and TEPAC won't spend money trying to unseat him. She said the PAC will have to look more closely at freshman Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., before deciding whether to try to defeat him.

"We're going to put our money in competitive places," Gilman said. "There are going to be a lot of Senate seats that are going to be close, and I think that in almost every one of those competitive seats, there's going to be a candidate who's much more supportive of federal employees."

Kelley encouraged union members to donate to TEPAC.

"Those who are working against federal employees have PACs," Kelley told members.

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