The AFSCME Factor

Ben Smith has a Giulianiesque mailer being sent out by AFSCME, the public employees' union, on behalf of Hillary Clinton:


This is the kind of attack you really don't like to see from a progressive interest group. I understand that AFSCME chief Gerald McIntee has a longstanding good relationship with the Clinton family, but in the even that Barack Obama becomes the nominee AFSCME's going regret having participated in this kind of smear against the Democratic standard-bearer. It's one thing for a group to attack a candidate on the group's key issues -- that's what groups are there for -- but this is just off-topic fearmongering. Several members of the AFSCME board apparently agree and sent out this letter: "We were therefore shocked and appalled to learn that our union-through 'independent expenditures'–is squandering precious resources to wage a costly and deceptive campaign to oppose Barack Obama."

My understanding is that AFSCME is one of the more top-down unions out there, so it doesn't really matter if McIntee pisses off some board members.