Tuesday, October 06, 2015

American Federation of Teachers union spends $37 million on politics

CASHING IN: AFT president Randi Weingarten was paid $497,000 last year

By Jason Hart

The 2015 American Federation of Teachers annual report shows a left-wing political machine humming on all cylinders — with teachers buying the gas.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, the union reported $37.6 million in political activity and lobbying expenditures, a $12.7 million increase from the previous year.

Even more political spending was tucked away elsewhere in AFT’s annual U.S. Department of Labor filing, reported as “Contributions, Gifts and Grants,” “General Overhead” or “Representational Activities.”

AFT paid union president Randi Weingarten, one of the nation’s most prominent “progressive” activists, a total of $497,118. The union reported only 2 percent of her time as political activity.

Other expenditures suggest AFT’s decision to endorse Weingarten’s friend Hillary Clinton for president — a move that angered many AFT members — had been made long before it was announced in July.

AFT donated $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in February, $125,000 to Clinton Global Initiative in April and another $125,000 to Clinton Global Initiative in May. In December, AFT paid Clinton-allied opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century $100,000.

The American Bridge payment was reported as a political expense. The payments to the scandal-ridden Clinton family nonprofits were not.

Clinton was the only presidential candidate whose affiliated nonprofits got money from AFT in 2015. But, as in previous years, AFT funded a long list of left-wing political action committees, activist groups and think tanks.

In many states, teachers can be required to pay AFT to have a job. Even though mandatory union fees can only legally be spent on representation, the power to take money from non-members frees AFT to spend more member dues on politics.

AFT gave the Democratic Governors Association $1.5 million, gave Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority $450,000 and gave the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee $400,000 last year.

The union paid $410,000 to progressive coalition America Votes, $115,000 to MSNBC host Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, $90,000 to the environmentalist BlueGreen Alliance and $15,000 to illegal immigrant advocacy group National Council of La Raza.

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