How do you make a Super PAC democratic? Here’s an exciting experiment in doing exactly that: The AFL-CIO’s Workers’ Voice Super PAC is giving activists—union and non-union alike—the chance to decide where and how it spends money. Basically, people who sign up with Workers’ Voice and log their campaign volunteering like canvassing and phone banking, will get credit that they can apply to their chosen candidates and types of expenditure. Workers’ Voice can’t make direct campaign contributions, but can spend on online advertising, Get Out the Vote work, and more.
“We are kind of jumping off a cliff and opening ourselves up to democracy. We are going to empower people and empower workers in a way that’s not been done before,” said Workers’ Voice spokesman Eddie Vale. “There may be a congressional race that isn’t much on people’s radar in D.C. But if there are a hundred activists in that congressional district who get their asses out of bed every morning and make phone calls and knock on doors, we feel they have earned the right to put [our] resources there.”
So if you support a candidate, and you have time but not money to give, by giving your time you can also earn your candidate financial support. And since Workers’ Voice can take unlimited contributions, if you have money you’d like to see helping a candidate you’ve already maxed out to:
“If you wanted to make a $ 50,000 contribution to drive X number of phone calls on behalf of a candidate you like or against a candidate that you hate, you can do that,” said Vale. “This is a new incentive model that no one has every tried. I think we have a real shot at doing something unique and meaningful here.”
This will be restricted to candidates Workers’ Voice is endorsing—you can’t make it spend money supporting anti-worker Republicans like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney, though activists will be able to suggest candidates to be added. But the program will extend to elections at all levels, from President Obama down to state legislative races.