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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Democratic leader calls union letter threatening to withhold support 'inappropriate'

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

House Leader Ward L. Armstrong described a letter from the Communications Workers of America to Democratic legislators threatening to withhold campaign donations and volunteers unless they vote against a communications bill "inappropriate."

"There are people that make contributions in politics and I think there are going to be some out there that expect you to behave or vote in a certain way based on a contribution,'' Armstrong said. "I think as a legislator you have to ignore stuff like this."

The letter, written by Carol Summerlyn, a CWA representative and member of the 3rd District Democratic Committee, was forwarded to many House Democrats about their support of HB 2367, the telecommunications modernization act:

I have been a strong Democrat since voting for McGovern in 1972. I am proud of my Democratic roots and the work I have done to promote Democratic principles. My union sisters and brothers have also worked tirelessly to elect Democrats, often making the difference in tight races. We conduct "Labor Walks" going door to door on Saturdays, make thousands of phone calls and send tens of thousands of mail pieces to ensure like thinking Democrats will be elected.

In return we expect full consideration for our issues. We do not expect those we have elected to turn their backs on our issues. Today the House Labor and Commerce Committee voted 19-1 to pass HB 2367, misnamed the Telecommunications Modernization Act. We expected Republicans to vote for the bill. We did not expect to be abandoned by our friends.

We are faced this year with an important election. I want to be sure we retain control of the Senate and increase our numbers in the House. CWA's active participation in this fall's election is being threatened by Democrats who are abandoning their base to align themselves with big business at the expense of consumers. It will be difficult to convince my members to give up their Saturdays and evenings to elect the very people who ignore our needs after the election is over. It will be nearly impossible for me to convince my boss to authorize the thousands of dollars we normally contribute to the party and individual candidates.

Summerlyn did not return calls for comment last week.

Del. Tim Hugo, a Fairfax Republican who serves as chairman of House GOP caucus, questioned Armstrong about the letter on the House floor last week.

"If they think they're buying my vote they can keep their money,'' Armstrong said.

By Anita Kumar  | February 14, 2011; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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I see nothing wrong with that letter, frankly. That's the way things work, baby.

Posted by: moiraeve1 | February 14, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"'If they think they're buying my vote they can keep their money,' Armstrong said."

Bold words from someone who, as a Democrat, is already thoroughly bought and paid for!

Posted by: wjy123 | February 14, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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