GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is disavowing a 2007 bill she co-sponsored that granted collective bargaining rights to police officers and firefighters, Politico reports. Despite claiming as recently as 2009 that “I am not anti-union,” Bachmann has been one of the most outspoken critics of labor rights and a fierce defender of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting agenda that stripped public workers of collective bargaining rights earlier this year.
The congresswoman sponsored the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007, which her fellow conservatives managed to kill after the legislation passed in the House. Spokeswoman Alice Stewart now says Bachmann’s vote was a mistake, and blames “bad information” for her decision to sign on to the bill:
When the congresswoman first went to Washington in 2007 she was presented this bill and was given bad information on the implications on the bill for firefighters and first responders. When she examined the bill, she came to the conclusion that it violated the 10th amendment, hurt the right to work of first responders in all 50 states, and hurt the ability of first responders to perform their jobs (especially volunteer fireman). When she came to that conclusion, she sent a letter to her constituents explaining why she would oppose the bill, rather than wait for the bill to come up for a vote.
Shockingly, Stewart actually seems to be admitting that Bachmann didn’t “examine” the bill before she signed on as a co-sponsor, claiming that once she did consider it carefully, she “came to the conclusion that it violated the 10th amendment” and somehow hurt the very public servants it empowered. This tacit admission flies in the face of a claim Bachmann consistently makes on the campaign trail — that unlike President Obama and many senators and representatives, she actually reads bills before she votes on them.
Opposition to union rights has become a key litmus test for the GOP field this year. Astonishing as it may seem that a candidate with such an abysmal union voting record could face criticism for a bill she now disavows, anonymous fliers are already circulating in South Carolina attacking Bachmann for “selling out to Big Labor.” Of course, the bigger issue is that supporting firefighters and police men has become such a toxic position among the Republican base that Bachmann feels it’s necessary to abandon hard-working public servants to scoop up votes.