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.