When NCPAC talks, AFSCME listens, usually disapprovingly.
Yesterday, the public employe union had heard enough, and it called a news conference to say "baloney" to the conservative political group's complaint about an alleged conspiracy among liberal politicians and the media.
NCPAC, the National Conservative Political Action Committee, charged Monday that 11 broadcasting stations in five states had refused to run its paid political ads after being pressured by liberal politicians who were targets of the ads.
Even though AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes, was not named as a part of any conspiracy, it waded into the controversy anyway.
The union noted that it had run into its own problems getting paid ads on the air, but didn't feel compelled to cry foul about politics, pressure, ideology or anything else.
"It's clear that some stations have iron-clad policies against advocacy advertising, others don't," said Joe Beeman, the union's director of political affairs, who noted that 40 stations around the country chose to run the union ads this year attacking Reaganomics, while about 40 didn't.
Beeman said NCPAC's planned $5 million suit against the stations and the politicians was just an "intimidation tactic" to "bludgeon TV stations into accepting their ads."
NCPAC, the best financed of the New Right political groups, retorted that AFSCME's testimony was not to the point. "Did President Reagan call some of those stations to tell them not to run the ads?" NCPAC spokesman Steve D'Angelo asked, with a rhetorical flourish.
NCPAC Chairman John T. (Terry) Dolan charged Monday that Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and John Melcher (D-Mont.) and Rep. James C. Wright Jr. (D-Tex.) called the stations in their states to urge them not to run the ads.
They denied being part of a conspiracy, and dismissed his charges as a "fund-raising ploy."