Local Union's Illicit Campaign "Mistake" Takes Member Teacher Funds for Granted

My friends at the Independence Institute yesterday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission after a local teachers union small donor committee reported giving $2,000 to Congresswoman Betsy Markey’s campaign. As the Longmont Times-Call reports:

The teachers’ union committee is not registered with the Federal Election Committee, so it is prohibited from contributing more than $1,000 to candidates for federal offices.

“It was an oversight; it’s been corrected,” said Trip Merklein, president of the SVVEA [St. Vrain Valley Education Association].

One of my Education Policy Center friends chimed in about the complaint:

In a telephone interview, [Ben] DeGrow said he accepts the union’s word that the donation was a mistake.

“It’s disappointing to see the union using teacher funds improperly,” he said. “Hopefully, this won’t happen again.”

Of course. Every reason to give local union officials the benefit of the doubt on why the illicit campaign contribution was made. But it’s not like they are just using their own money here. It looks like they’re taking teacher dues collections for granted.

Along with all other members of the Colorado Education Association, full-time St. Vrain union teachers have $39 automatically collected along with dues to fund CEA’s political action. SVVEA takes out an additional $10 from each member for political purposes. While it’s sad that the union doesn’t ask first, the good news is members can file separate refund requests to CEA and SVVEA to get the money back — before the December 15 deadline. Details and more available on our Independent Teachers website.

I wonder how knowing that the local union office tried to donate some of their money illegally to Betsy Markey’s Congressional campaign will affect this year’s decisions whether to request the political refund.