IRS Checks Teachers Union Books

|

Reports the AP (via the Chicago Tribune):

The IRS has begun auditing the National Education Association, which has allocated millions of dollars to help elect pro-education candidates while reporting on tax forms that it does not spend union dues on politics.

While promising cooperation, the leader of the nation's largest teachers union is pledging to "vigorously defend our constitutional right to speak to our members about the role of politics in public education."

The IRS audit is the result of intervention by the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative group. What the feds will find is anyone's guess, given the history of the NEA's political participation–and apparent ability to stick to the formal rules:

The Associated Press reviewed the NEA's filings from 1993 to 1999, reporting in a series of stories that the teachers' group listed on its tax returns that no union dues were spent on politics despite extensive internal memos laying out funding for such activities.

Hundreds of internal NEA documents reviewed by the AP indicated the 2.7 million-member organization spent millions of dollars to help elect pro-education candidates, produce political training guides and gather teachers' voting records. For instance, a July 1999 strategic plan had $4.9 million budgeted for "organizational partnerships" in the 2000 election.

If the experience of the Washington Education Association, a state-level affiliate of the NEA, is any guide, all sorts of weird shit may come out.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Not-So-Great Debate

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It’s like Dubs has a checklist he’s going through. Nixon II: Electric Boogaloo.

    Harass political opponents with the IRS – check!

    (not that I’m any fan of the NEA)

  2. Indeed. What are the chances the NRA will face an audit?

  3. Er, at what point did the NRA deny donating to candidates on their tax returns? They are nothing if not up front about giving money to friendly politicians.

    “Nixon II: Electric Boogaloo.”

    The answer is right in front of us. Put Turbo and Ozone in charge of the Dept. of Education!

  4. NRA has been audited. As have a number of groups that could be considered conservative. Many conservatives accused the Clinton administration of attacking conservative groups using the IRS. I don’t buy that and I don’t buy the accusation that the Bush administration is using the IRS to attack enemies. The NEA and any other teachers unions that claims that it is not using any funds for political purposes is lying. An audit of the NEA is long overdue.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/1997/11/03/editorial3.html

  5. I have no use for the NEA, but I understand why they think they have to pretend none of their spending goes to politics. Not only would they have to pay taxes on the portion of their revenue that they spend for things other than collective bargaining, but under Hudson and Beck and several other Supreme Court Cases, people who object to a union’s political spending are entitled to withhold the fraction of their dues that pays for such spending. If a significant part of the membership (and coerced non-members) did so it would cripple the union’s budget and therefore its political clout.

  6. Anything bad for the NEA is good for the USA (and good “for the children” TM)

    Why not let the IRS take down the NEA, then BTW, let the NRA take out the IRS, the TSA, and the EPA? Then let’s head to the KFC and read the USA TODAY, OK?

  7. “… I understand why they think they have to pretend none of their spending goes to politics.”

    Good for you. I’m planning to break into a jewelry store tonight and if I get caught I’m going to pretend that I need the money for my grandma’s operation. You understand.

  8. “Anyone know whether the NEA had a position on campaign finance reform when the McCain/Finegold bill hit town?”

    No doubt, they probably supported McCain/Finegold; if you ain’t going to obey the law anyway, it might just as well restrict as much as possible.

  9. I’d settle for an audit of Jesse Jackson’s empire. His tax returns are facially fraudulent and inadequate, but he is untouchable.

  10. Facially fraudulent? I think you’re thinking of *Michael* Jackson.

  11. “gather teachers’ voting records”

    For intimidation purposes?

  12. Last year, the Florida Education Association (FEA) got in trouble over something similar. Seems that, in order to get around these restrictions, they took out a $1.7 million mortgage on their headquarters building, and used the funds to campaign against Brother Jeb last year (that’s not union dues!). Of course, the mortgage is being *repaid* from union dues. Details here:

    http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1282/21_54/93370302/p1/article.jhtml

    and here:

    http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1282/22_54/94960934/p1/article.jhtml

  13. “Does it strike anyone else as odd that the AP refers to union-supported candidates as ‘pro-education,’ apparently without irony?”

    No, it strikes me as the usual crap I’ve come to expect from a typical A.P. reporter, who wouldn’t know blatant media bias if it came up and bit him on the krugman. As for me, I’m only voting for anti-education candidates from now on.

  14. Of course, the mortgage is being *repaid* from union dues.

    Good Christ. They can’t even launder money competently. Surely some of their mobbed up buddies in one of the other unions can give them some pointers.

  15. internal document = “we’ll spend 4.9million on this campaign to elect gore”

    irs filing = “no we spent no money on education”

    spokesperson’s response to lawsuit + audit = “this campaign to audit us is a rightwing plot to silence our political activity!”

    methinks that their lawyers’ need to better control their spokespeople… if you didn’t spend any money, there’s no speech to oppress, but if there’s speech to oppress, you must have spent money on speech activities… ergo you violated the law, committed felonies, and are all going to a federal pen!

    jebus.. idiot clients!

  16. does it strike anyone else as odd that the AP refers to union-supported candidates as “pro-education,” apparently without irony?

  17. NOPE…bet they get fined for tax evasion…any takers.

  18. no shit, right-wing types trying to crush a unions right to collectively bargain in order to extort taxpayers. next thing you know they will call in the pinkertons.

    terrible.

  19. Anyone know whether the NEA had a position on campaign finance reform when the McCain/Finegold bill hit town?

  20. Fewer deductions for the NEA means more money for the Federal government.

    I only hope the Federal government uses this money to debt reduction instead of using it to intrude even further into my private life.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.