Crossing the Pearl Harbor Bridge this afternoon, I saw this billboard:
It included a URL for a website, CTWorkers.org. When I got home, I visited that website, and found this:
The whole website is dedicated to encouraging public sector workers to resign from their unions and stop paying dues. Of course, their stated mission is to “Empower Workers” and to serve as a “community for Connecticut public employees interested in talking about workplace rights.”
Beyond that, there’s no information on the site about who they are or where they came from. Clicking through to their Facebook page, though, you can look at an archive of their old ads.
All are paid for by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.
The Yankee Institute, of course, is a Connecticut-based right-wing think tank that “advances free-market, limited-government solutions.”
So, the Yankee Institute is funding “CT Workers.” Who’s funding them?
According to SourceWatch.org, Yankee Institute receives funding from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a right-wing watchdog group connected to ALEC, the notorious lobbying group that feeds reactionary legislation to local politicians.
The Yankee Institute also receives a great deal of funding from Donors Trust, the Koch Brothers’ anonymous, dark money lobbying group. According to Mother Jones:
Over the past decade, it has funded the right’s assault on labor unions, climate scientists, public schools, economic regulations, and the very premise of activist government. … It is the dark-money ATM of the right.
Founded in 1999, Donors Trust (and an affiliated group, Donors Capital Fund) has raised north of $500 million and doled out $400 million to more than 1,000 conservative and libertarian groups, according to Whitney Ball, the group’s CEO. Donors Trust allows wealthy contributors who want to donate millions to the most important causes on the right to do so anonymously, essentially scrubbing the identity of those underwriting conservative and libertarian organizations.
Connected to Donors Trust, ALEC, and the Yankee Institute is the State Policy Network, which has launched a nation-wide campaign attacking state employee unions. The ultimate goal is to bankrupt them.
So, in short, anonymous and unaccountable dark money is funding billboards attacking unions here in Connecticut and across the country. I knew this sort of thing happens, but all the same it was jarring to see it in front of my face, 30 feet tall on a Sunday afternoon.