Colo. Teachers Union Members Automatically Funding False, Malicious Political Ads

Many Colorado teachers may be unknowingly funding a political group under government investigation and private legal complaint for creating multiple “negative ads were filled with outrageous and unfounded claims.”

An article by Colorado Media Trackers highlights the detestable activities of the 527 group Colorado Accountable Government Alliance (CAGA). The Colorado Education Association‘s small donor “Public Education Committee” this year has made two separate $50,000 contributions (July 10 and August 2) to CAGA.

Nonpartisan state house candidate Kathleen Curry, the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, has been falsely attacked by CAGA as opposing insurance coverage for mammograms. Summit County officials have opened an ethics violation investigation in this case.

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Michigan Considers Teacher-Empowering Payroll Reform, Like Colorado Did in 2008

Business Week features a brief story about a piece of legislation under consideration in the Michigan legislature:

A proposal that would prohibit public schools from automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks is advancing in the Michigan Legislature.

The Republican-led House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee approved the measure Tuesday with a party line 4-2 vote. The measure advances to the House floor.

An email blast from the Education Action Group Foundation explains how this sort of proposal can help make unions more accountable to the members they serve:

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Member Dues for Political Contributions: Colorado Teacher Unions Give 99.9% to Democrats in 2009-10

Back in September we noted that Colorado teachers unions (the Colorado Education Association and American Federation of Teachers) had reported giving a combined 99.8 percent of their political contributions from member dues to the Democratic Party and its candidates, as well as pro-Democrat organizations, in the 2009-2010 election cycle. These contributions only cover state and local political races.

Well, at least through October 28 of this election cycle (all but the last five days of the campaign), the final figure for the share of CEA and AFT political giving going to Democrats is 99.9 percent of more than $1.5 million total — including more than a quarter million to the 527 group Accountability for Colorado called out by journalists and by candidates in both parties for maliciously distorting the truth in attacking political candidates.

See the breakdown of numbers below (click “Fullscreen” for clearest view):

2009-2010 Union Summary

Click here to see more on Colorado teachers union political contributions, including comparisons with 2006 and 2008.

Colorado Teacher Unions’ Top 20 Backed Candidates Finished .500 on Election Day

Education News Colorado has posted an interesting story today about the success rate of candidates backed by various education groups, including the teachers unions:

Five organizations – the Colorado Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-Colorado, the Colorado Association of School Executives, Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform – backed legislative candidates. (The school executives only endorsed; political committees affiliated with the other groups gave financial contributions. Stand didn’t give money to every candidate it endorsed.)

Here’s the scorecard by organization:

* CEA – Contributed to 41 candidates; 31 of those won. 75.6 percent.
* AFT – Contributed to 42 candidates; 31 of those won. 73.8 percent.
* CASE – Endorsed 32 candidates; 27 of those won. 84.3 percent.
* Stand – Endorsed or contributed to 18 candidates; 15 of those won. 83.3 percent.
* DFER – Contributed to only two Democratic Senate candidates; both won. 100 percent.

While the unions won about 75 percent of their endorsed candidate races, more telling is the close and high-profile races where they invested the most money. Below is a more detailed scorecard that shows the top 20 state candidates supported by Colorado teachers union contributions in 2010.

In their biggest 20 financial outlays of member dues to support Democrats running for office (99.9% of CEA and AFT political funds backed Colorado Democrats), the unions finished an even .500 — winning 10 and losing 10. Those who were successfully elected are marked in green, while those who were defeated are marked in red. Click “Fullscreen” for the best view of the list:

Colorado Teachers Union Top 20 Candidates 2010

Click here to see more on Colorado teachers union political contributions, including comparisons with 2006 and 2008.

So… “How Much Does NEA Spend on Politics?”

Of course, the answer to the question is: Depends what you mean. Some issues to consider:

  • Are we talking about the national union headquarters, state union affiliates and/or local union offices?
  • Are we only discussing “PAC money” or all the kinds of independent expenditures that regular dues money may be spent on?
  • Are we looking at spending only on political candidates or on local and state ballot issues, too?
  • Are we including only direct campaign contributions, or also “member communications” on political topics?

No one understands how this all works better than Mike Antonucci from the Education Intelligence Agency, and he explains it well in his latest Communique. Bookmark for future reference.

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