Proposal to prohibit police unions from funding district attorney campaigns doesn’t go far enough

By Joel Fox | One response to the protests over police treatment of black communities is a proposal by some current and former California district attorneys to prohibit candidates running for prosecutor positions from receiving police unions’ donations and endorsements. 

The Los Angeles Times editorially backed the idea arguing, “These unions’ power to raise and dispense large amounts of campaign cash has warped the electoral process.” 

If such a move is seriously considered, then the proposal doesn’t go far enough. The same principle of unions unduly influencing authorities that oversee their work applies to other relationships between public unions and government officials. If police unions should not give to District Attorney candidates, then teachers unions should not endorse and donate to school board candidates; prison guard unions should not give to state legislators; other public sector unions should not campaign for mayors and city council members who set their salaries and working conditions. 

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin succinctly laid out the reasoning for the California State Bar to remove any conflict of interest of police unions backing prosecutors when he wrote in a statement, “The financial and political support of these unions should not be allowed to influence the decision making.” 

Isn’t that the same roadmap used by teachers’ unions seeking to elect school board members? 

To read the rest of this commentary on CALmatters, please click here.

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