Relatively few federal employees make donations to political campaigns. In FedSmith surveys, a majority of those responding normally indicate that they are independent rather than aligned with any political party.
How have federal employee unions and federal employees that do donate to political campaigns spent their money? All of the financial information below is provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The data were compiled based on information released by the Federal Election Commission on October 28, 2016.
Political Donations from Federal Unions and Federal Interest Groups
Federal employee unions are usually thought of as providing support and favorable publicity for Democrats and criticizing Republicans. The actual dollar amounts spent for each political party generally support this conclusion. The chart below shows how federal employee unions and organizations, including Postal Service organizations, donated money during the 2016 election cycle.
|Union||Total||Democrats||Republicans||Outside Spending Groups|
|National AFGE Headquarters||$2,293,036||0||0||$2,293,036|
|American Federation of Govt Employees||$1,945,539||91.6%||8.4%||$809,118|
|National Rural Letter Carriers Association||$435,000||59.7%||40.3%||$0|
|National Treasury Employees Union||$409,932||95.9%||4.1%||$0|
|National Association of Postal Supervisors||$311,250||93.3%||6.7%||$0|
|Federal Aviation Admin Managers Association||$284,500||27.4%||72.6%||$0|
|National Postal Mail Handlers Union||$234,000||92.5%||7.5%||$0|
|National Weather Service Employees Org.||$64,500||47.4%||25.6%||$0|
|National Association of Postmasters||$100,580||78.9%||21.1%||$0|
Political Donations from Federal Employees
The largest total donations were from State Department employees where Hillary Clinton previously served as Secretary of State. More than 94% of donations from employees in this agency went to Democrats. The smallest amount was from the Department of Energy, but 93.7% went to Democrats. The Department of Labor had the greatest percentage of donations going to Democrats. 98.8% of these donations were to Democratic party candidates.
Agencies likely to benefit from a Trump administration include the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs. 65% of Defense contributions went to Democrats, the lowest percentage among major agencies. 75% of Homeland Security donations went to Democrats.
In the Department of Justice, the agency responsible for investigating the Clinton email scandal, 91.6% of donations went to Democrats. $346,125 was donated to Mrs. Clinton from the Justice Department.
|Agency||Total Contributions||Democrats||Republicans||Other to Outside Groups|
|Dept. of State||$999,502||94.3%||5.3%||$2700|
|House of Representatives||$728,482||69%||30.9%||$1750|
|Health & Human Services||$630,957||94.8%||5.0%||$250|
|Dept. of Justice||$479,083||91.6%||8.4%||$5500|
|Dept. of Agriculture||$368,426||87.2%||11.9%||$740|
|Dept. of Energy||$313,046||93.7%||6.0%||$375|
|Dept. of Labor||$286,023||98.8%||1.2%||$6300|
|Dept. of Defense||
|Dept. of Education||
Totals for Defense, Homeland Security and Department of Education are for candidates in the 2016 election cycle. Other agencies reflect totals for “Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups”. All data is from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Implications for Agencies Under a Trump Administration
Will the overwhelming support for Democrats in the election make any difference with Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress and the White House?
In part, Republican support for particular agencies and programs, such as Defense and Veterans Affairs, is reflected in the split of donations. Employees generally provided less support for Democrats from these agencies. In part, that may be because there was already support from Republicans to grow these agencies.
On the other hand, agencies such as the Department of Education or Department of Energy have been criticized or received negative comments from Donald Trump or surrogates during the presidential campaign. Financial support for at least some of the programs in these agencies may be cut under the new administration. That is unlikely to be the result of political preferences of employees in these agencies but reflects of a philosophical difference in different administrations.