NEA’s Ballot Fund Being Brought to Bear in States

The National Education Association collects an annual special assessment from each member that goes into the national union’s Ballot Measure/Legislative Crises Fund. State affiliates then apply for grants, which are either approved, reduced or denied by the union’s executive committee and board of directors. At last check the fund contained $58 million.

NEA keeps the amount of these disbursements close to the vest, but we have learned that the union pledged $1.4 million to Massachusetts, $1.5 million to Georgia, $2 million to Oregon and $500,000 to Maine.

Now enough time has passed for that money to start appearing in campaign finance disclosure reports and it appears that the deployment of the funds differs from state to state.

In Massachusetts, NEA delivered the $1.4 million in one lump sum to the No on Question 2 campaign on September 1. This is uncommon, as the union usually prefers to send money in smaller batches as it is being used.

In Georgia, the campaign to oppose the governor’s Opportunity School District initiative has so far reported only a $125,000 contribution from the Georgia Association of Educators and no money from NEA, though the campaign begins running TV ads today.

In Oregon, Yes on Measure 97 reported $750,000 in contributions from the Oregon Education Association and $750,000 from SEIU Local 503, but nothing yet from NEA. The measure is polling well, which might give NEA the option of reducing its commitment if the money isn’t needed.

In Maine, the committee in support of Question 2 received $300,000 from NEA. Another $40,000 came from in-kind contributions of staff time from the Maine Education Association, accounting for almost all of the committee’s income.

Looking at the total picture, it appears NEA hasn’t yet committed the full force of its donations to state-level campaigns and at the end of the month will be able to authorize even more grants from the ballot measure war chest. We will likely not know the extent of the national union’s contributions until after the election.