Politics

New ‘dark money’ financial disclosures expose the political outlook and power of teacher unions

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New financial disclosures further expose the political power of the nation’s two largest teachers unions. Between 2020 and 2021, the National Education Association provided more than $8 million dollars to liberal, dark money groups such as the State Innovation Exchange, Strategic Victory Fund, and State Engagement Fund. The latter received over $6.5 million and exists under the umbrella of the Democracy Alliance, which was described by Politico in 2014 as, “The Left’s Secret Club.”

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In 2020, while parents were plagued by school closures and Congress carved out its Coronavirus Relief Package, the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers increased their contributions to Democrats and liberal groups totaling more than $65 million. 

President Joe Biden speaks with National Education Association President Becky Pringle at the NEA’s annual meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, Friday, July 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The partisan influence is not limited to issues that affect the classroom. In October, AFT President, Randi Weingarten issued a statement on President Biden’s infrastructure and spending bills, “Congress must move forward and pass the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and lead our country forward in this critical moment.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the National Education Association's annual meeting and representative assembly event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 2, 2021. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the National Education Association’s annual meeting and representative assembly event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, July 2, 2021. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amidst a rapidly mobilizing movement of frustrated parents in Virginia, Weingarten unsuccessfully campaigned for former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters during a rally in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters during a rally in Richmond, Va., Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Both unions disclosed a combined contribution of $600,000 toward McAuliffe’s campaign.

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According to OpenSecrets.org, donations from the two unions have long been on the rise and grew from $4.3 million in 2004 to more than $32 million in 2016. 

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The data also shows that in preparation of the 2022 midterms the two teachers unions have so far provided $1.3 million to Democrats and $2,500 to Republicans.

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