The California Teachers Association Spent Almost $212 Million on Politics in the 2000s

The California Fair Political Practices Commission released a report titled “Big Money Talks” that revealed the California Teachers Association was the largest political spender in the state over the last decade, dropping $211.8 million on ballot initiatives, candidates for state and local office, and lobbying.

The amount was almost twice as much as the second-ranked interest group, the California State Council of Service Employees, which is the political arm of the state SEIU chapters.

The commission is unusually blunt about the effect this money has on the political process in California:

California’s Top 15 special interest groups often win by spending money to defeat ballot measures — which has the effect of maintaining the status quo. Their willingness to spend vast sums of money gives them the ability not just to drown out others, but to exercise powerful political leverage. By spending huge amounts of money, they send an unmistakable message to political opponents and elected officials alike: “We’re ready, willing, and able to spend millions — you don’t want to fight us.” What is good for the people of California matters less than what hurts or helps the individual interests of these groups.

The FPPC is even less optimistic than I am about the situation. “This report leaves little doubt where the vortex of political power lies in this state. The numbers tell the story. And there is no end in sight to the spending binge by special interests,” the authors wrote.

That last statement is certainly true.


5 thoughts on “The California Teachers Association Spent Almost $212 Million on Politics in the 2000s”

  1. It would be interesting to know how much of that was dues money and how much of it was PAC money.

  2. That’s not a mystery. A little over $29 million was PAC money. The rest was dues money.

  3. Please provide a breakdown of the expenditures for the categories you list. It is only illegal for CTA to use dues money to support political candidates. If the only money CTA spent on campaigns was the $29 million of PAC money, they were operating within the law. I am sure you must know this, so just providing the raw number without a breakdown is bad journalism.

  4. Here in North Carolina the teachers’ union repeatedly tells its members and potential members, especially when recruiting, that “none of your dues money will be spent on politics.” When you press them on it they always fall back on the old ‘candidate contribution’ dodge as Rich does above. As a result most NCAE members here have no inkling of the many ways their dues money is used to wage political battles.

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