How to intimidate state employees without having to try very hard: Request their personal information and force disclosure under state sunshine laws.
In an email sent out to all Kutztown University employees earlier today, Gerald Silberman – the university’s Right to Know Officer and Vice President of Administration and Finance – informed employees that the group Pennsylvanians for Union Reform has sought the release of all the home addresses of university employees. According to Silberman, all home addresses of Kutztown University employees are “public records subject to disclosure” unless an employee can prove that the release of her or his home address will likely lead to substantial physical harm to that individual.
Should one of the consequences of being a public employee be the disclosure of private, personal information to an organization that wants to see your employment protections evaporate?
The man behind the curtain of that organization is Simon Campbell, who has pulled this stunt before.
The organization behind the request is Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, an anti-union group headed by the long-time, union-hating hit man, Simon Campbell. Campbell been at this kind of Right-to-Know data mining operation since he first founded “Stop Teacher Strikes” back in 2005 when he was a member of the Pennsbury School Board in Bucks County, PA.
The players in this story are Simon Campbell – a conservative grassroots activist from Yardley, PA, dark money think tanks, and astro-turfed media and social media outlets.
Simon Campbell is a local conservative activist from Bucks County PA. He jumped on the scene in 2005 when he was elected to the Pennsbury School District. The cause-celeb he ran on was a teacher bashing and anti-teacher strike platform. While sitting on the Pennsbury School Board, Campbell started Stop Teachers Strike.
In 2013, Campbell’s four year term on the local school board was up and he and his colleagues were swept off board. Weeks after the election, Campbell founded a 501.4(c) organization called Pennsylvanians For Union Reform, and thanks to his non-profit social welfare status, Campbell’s group is able to receive a whole lot of dark money.
Campbell’s resume as a right-wing activist has him giving speeches at luncheons or sitting on training sessions at Koch funded think-tanks like the statewide Commonwealth Foundation and Americans for Prosperity.
Watch him bash the public school system and unions in a talk for Commonwealth Foundation here:
Campbell is obsessive about busting unions, which makes him a perfect fit with his oligarchs' desire to take whatever they can out of the pockets of anyone who doesn't have much to begin with. He's also unafraid to infringe on ordinary people's right to a little privacy.
Campbell has one agenda: to find whatever means he can to break the political power of unions. One source in Harrisburg said that Campbell’s latest round of Right-to-Know requests is his little hissy-fit because he was not pleased with one of the latest court decisions that allowed individual employees to request exemptions from having their home addresses and other personal data released. The idea, like many well-funded, right-wing organizations is to file law-suit after law-suit to force unions and government offices to spend down their resources and waste their time defending his constant barrage of frivolous lawsuits. And despite the fact that he calls himself a lover of liberty, he seems not to care about individuals reasonable right to privacy.
In a world where wealthy donors can launder donations to these groups through a linked web of sham organizations, it's really evil of them to demand workers' home addresses and telephone numbers. Moreover, it's unnecessary for any tax-exempt purpose whatsoever.
Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Campbell that there is still a thing called social welfare, and that thing called social welfare is supposed to be at the center of what his organization does. That thing called social welfare is not defined as serving oligarchs. It's defined as work which benefits the community as a whole. Outing employees and endangering them is not at all consistent with benefiting the community.