The Operating Engineers Local 139 political action committee is paving new ground. The once-staunch contributor to Democratic candidates for the Legislature and statewide office gave $4,000 of its $18,276 in campaign contributions to two GOP leadership committees – the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate – during the first six months of 2005.
The latest contributions coincide with the exit of the union’s political coordinator, Joe Wineke, a former Democratic state senator and now head of the state Democratic Party. Before this year, the Operating Engineers had given only $1,000 worth of its $140,328 in contributions to Republicans from 1993 through 2004.
The union appears to be hedging its bets and contributing to Republicans, who control the Senate and Assembly, like other wealthy special interests WDC has identified before.
The 9,000-member union frequently sides with the influential road building industry to come down on critics who want to cut new road projects or the taxes people pay to build them.