We are constantly warned to beware of the legislative clout that big business can buy. But when it comes to political campaign money, the biggest spenders are not the oil companies or the banks. The number-one biggest campaign spender in federal and state political campaigns and ballot measures during the 2007-2008 election cycle was the National Education Association, known as the NEA. The NEA spent $56.3 million, far more than any other big-bucks donor.
[according to a comprehensive analysis compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute.]
The NEA's political contributions go 95% to Democratic candidates or to promote leftist ballot issues. Yet, surveys show that the NEA has more members who are conservative than liberal. But teachers, who pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues to national, state and local affiliates, have no control over the NEA's political advocacy or endorsement of candidates. Teachers in 28 states risk losing their jobs if they refuse to join a union.
In addition to the NEA's direct attempts to influence elections and policy through lobbying and election campaigns, the NEA gave millions more to other leftist organizations that help to advance the NEA's education and social agenda. For example, the NEA gave $250,000 to the Arizona State University Office, to produce numerous studies criticizing policies the NEA opposes, such as vouchers and charter schools. The NEA also creates and finances front groups to give the impression of public support of NEA policies. A group called Communities for Quality Education was formed to have the appearance of an independent organization. Actually its board consisted entirely of current and past teachers union officials and it got its entire $9 million budget from NEA national and state affiliates. Next week I'm going to tell you what policies the NEA is spending its money to achieve.
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