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SEIU defends pro-Edwards 527

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

The SEIU defended an affiliated pro-Edwards 527, which is running ads in favor of Edwards. Alliance for New America, funded by the SEIU, is running $750,000 worth of TV advertising in Iowa. An adviser to the group is Edwards' former campaign manager, and the group and Edwards have faced scrutiny for their involvement.

"While SEIU did not create the Alliance for a New America, the union supports the entity because it shares our goal of sparking a discussion of how best address the concerns of working people in America," writes Dave Regan, SEIU president, in a press release. "The union's support for the Alliance for a New America has been given in full accordance with both the spirit and letter of the laws governing 527 political organizations. There has been no coordination or discussion of our support for the organization's work with any individual candidate or campaign at any time.

"SEIU leaders will continue to separate any 527 activities from any discussions with candidates. Moreover, a thorough review of the ads reveals that the ads are focused on the issues and do not attack any candidates."

*** UPDATE *** The New York Times reports on its Caucus blog that "two campaign-finance advocacy groups -- Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center -- argue that the Alliance for a New America may be violating other campaign finance rules."

The Edwards campaign responded that "As soon as SEIU officials informed us, later on, that some of their staff would no longer able to communicate with us about the campaign, we immediately stopped all conversation with them, as we legally had to."

Here's the full release:
"The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today reiterated the importance of the Alliance for a New America, which enables working people to pool their resources to gain a voice on the key issues facing America as the country heads into the 2008 elections.

"SEIU members believe that everyone in America should be able to fully participate in the national discussion of issues in this election, not just the special interests who pour millions into campaign activities. SEIU members care deeply about fixing our broken healthcare system and ensuring economic equality and opportunity for everyone in America.

"For many years SEIU members have joined together to support public advocacy on issues that affect their families and communities.  For example, the Americans for Healthcare campaign focused the attention of political candidates and the public on our nation's health care crisis.  Similarly, the Justice for Janitors campaign advocated for the rights of low-wage workers. These public advocacy campaigns have proven to be a highly effective way to help keep the debate focused on the issues that matter for working people and their families.

"SEIU members have long supported the work of independent political groups, like The Alliance for a New America.  While SEIU did not create the Alliance for a New America, the union supports the entity because it shares our goal of sparking a discussion of how best address the concerns of working people in America. The union's support for the Alliance for a New America has been given in full accordance with both the spirit and letter of the laws governing 527 political organizations. There has been no coordination or discussion of our support for the organization's work with any individual candidate or campaign at any time.

"SEIU leaders will continue to separate any 527 activities from any discussions with candidates.  Moreover, a thorough review of the ads reveals that the ads are focused on the issues and do not attack any candidates.

"District 1199 represents more than 28,000 health care and social service workers across West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. The Union is a part of the Service Employees International Union, whose 1.8 million members make it the largest union in the country as well as the largest health care union in the nation."

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