I was doing some digging and examining of some campaign finance data sets that I have obtained and was pleasantly surprised to find that there has been a steep decline in the amount of campaign contributions that the state's public employee unions (and private sector labor) give to California Republican lawmakers.
Conversations with reliable inside sources confirmed this conclusion. There are some exceptions but by and large most Republican lawmakers got less than $20,000 in total contributions from the state's public employee unions over the last three years 2013-16, according to the KQED/Maplight data set. Many lawmakers only got a few thousand dollars, an extremely modest and almost insignificant amount, and the average was about $20,000 for almost four years, only $5,000 per year.
In total the 30 Republican lawmakers examined got $575,000 in total contributions from the state's public safety unions over the 2013-16 period.
Democrats on the other hand, averaged $70,000 over the 2013-16 period but this average is very low because the KQED analysis did not include contributions from the California Democratic Party, which I have found gives about as much to Democrat lawmakers as is given directly by organized labor.
Many public employee unions give money to the Democratic Party which is not subject to contribution limitations but then directly given to Democrat lawmakers. In rough terms, I estimate that Democrats averaged $140,000 from organized labor over the 2013-16 period, assuming that the vast majority of Democratic Party money is union money. This is a large chunk of their campaign war chest, and does not include independent expenditures.
In total, I estimated that Democrat lawmakers included in the KQED analysis received $10 million in contributions from organized labor--roughly $5 million directly from labor unions, and another $5 million funneled through the Democratic Party from union interests.
The Democrat analysis included 59 lawmakers, about double the Republican side, but nearly 20 times the union campaign cash---$575,000 vs. $10 million for 30 Republican members, compared to the 59 Democrat members, examined in the KQED analysis, the legislators who have been there since 2013.
A review of political party filings show that public employee unions and private sector unions give heavily to the California Democratic Party, but give almost nothing to the California Republican Party.
Overall, I was encouraged by these figures because it means that most if not all Republican lawmakers would likely do the right thing in the event that a substantial pension reform bill, or public employee compensation reform bill is brought to the floor of the Legislature. (I know we're not quite there yet, but things can change quickly given where I see this issue going)
I have heard that most Republican members are there on pension reform, but won't publicly endorse it because there is little to be gained politically, and a lot to potentially be lost.
I have learned first hand why nobody raises the issue, because it scares the crap out of everyone close to California politics out of fear of union retaliation. Hopefully, this will erode over time, and I'm thankful that at least the minority party does not appear to be captured by the public employee unions to the extent that they were when they voted down Governor Schwarzenegger's pension reform bill in 2010--just 6 years ago.
I apologize if I lumped the Republicans together with the Democrats in blocking pension reform in previous reports. It's been a tough mystery to unravel on my own since very few people know the answers, and even less will talk and provide reliable information.
People lie all the time right to my face about the pension issue, luckily I have been pretty good at spotting dishonesty to get the story straight and in accordance with the facts, not how people spin the pension issue.
I would like to publish a formal study on this but don't have the capacity at the moment. So please use these figures as estimates, knowing that they are back of the envelope calculations that I am comfortable with, but may not represent hard numbers. I am confident in the conclusions, which is why I don't want to spend more time formally analyzing the data at this time.
Below I have attached an Excel file with the summary of contributions by organized labor to 30 Republican lawmakers for 2013-16. The data came directly from the KQED/Maplight analysis, I just ran a few summary figures.