Political Party/527

National Education Association (NEA) Advocacy Fund

Website:

www.neafund.org

Also Known As:

NEA Advocacy Fund

Formation:

2010

Type:

527 Political Action Committee

Associated Groups:

National Education Association (NEA)

NEA Foundation

The NEA Advocacy Fund is the political action committee (PAC) arm of the National Education Association (NEA), America’s largest teachers union.

NEA Advocacy Fund, funded almost entirely by contributions from NEA members, has spent millions of dollars opposing conservative candidates.

History

Founded in 2010, the NEA Advocacy Fund carries out the political agenda of the National Education Association by supporting left-wing candidates who will support teachers’ union-aligned education policies in state and federal races. NEA Advocacy Fund encourages voters to support or dismiss candidates based on their stances on teachers’ union policies, notably opposition to school choice and charter schools and support for reducing class sizes, spending increased government sums on early childhood education, and hiking teacher pay, among other policies. [1]

Past Elections

In the 2020 elections, the NEA Advocacy Fund made more than $5.5 million in independent expenditures. [2] Just over $5 million of those funds targeted Republican candidates. [3] In the presidential election, the group spent over $60,000 opposing President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign[4] and later praised Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory, as well as Jill Biden, an NEA member, on becoming the next First Lady. [5]

The NEA Advocacy Fund recommended several congressional candidates during the 2018 elections. It backed U.S. Senate candidates including then-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), among others. The group also recommended U.S. House candidates such as Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). [6]

The NEA Advocacy Fund also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in state races to support 2020 Democratic candidates. In New Hampshire, for example, the NEA Advocacy Fund spent more than $225,000 in support of Democratic State Senate candidates including then-State Representative Susan Ford (D-Easton) and then-State Sen. Jeanne Dietsch (D-Peterborough). The organization also paid over $75,000 for postcards supporting incumbent State Senate Democrats in the Granite State. [7]

In the 2018 elections, the group spent over $1.3 million on independent expenditures, more than $1.2 million of which was spent on communications targeting Republicans. [8] Similarly during the 2016 elections, the NEA Advocacy Fund spent more than $3.6 million targeting conservative candidates out of an independent expenditure total of more than $3.9 million. [9]

In 2014, the NEA Advocacy Fund focused on opposing Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate election. The group spent a total of almost $3 million opposing Tillis which accounted for more than half of the group’s total expenditures in the 2013-2014 election cycle. [10]

Finance

As of November 2020, the NEA Advocacy Fund reported receiving over $23 million in contributions from the National Education Association and disbursing $23.3 million throughout the 2019-2020 election cycle. [11] In 2020, the NEA Advocacy Fund supported several left-of-center committees by contributing $1.5 million to the House Majority PAC, $150,000 to the Clinton-supporting PAC Priorities USA Action, $150,000 to EMILY’S List, and $1.5 million to the Senate Majority PAC. [12] The organization has supported other committees in past years, giving $1 million to Priorities USA Action in 2016, for example. [13]

In the 2017-2018 election cycle, the NEA Advocacy Fund reported more than $15.2 million in receipts, almost all of which came from the National Education Association, and more than $15.3 million in disbursements. [14]

Leadership

Sabrina Tines serves as the NEA Advocacy Fund PAC treasurer. Tines is a senior director in the National Education Association’s Center for Governance. [15] Lisa Robillard serves as the assistant PAC treasurer[16] and serves as the manager for business affairs at the National Education Association. [17] Previously, Robillard served as the assistant to the president at EMILY’s List. [18]

Controversies

In 2014, the National Education Association and NEA Advocacy Fund came under fire as Mary Trometter, a union member, sued the National Education Association and the Pennsylvania State Education Association for allegedly misusing her union dues. The lawsuit came after Trometter’s husband received a letter in the mail at their home in Pennsylvania encouraging him, as a “family member of an educator,” to vote for Democratic candidate Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election. Trometter alleged that the letter, paid for by the NEA Advocacy Fund, misused her membership dues in violation of the Public Employee Relations Act, which states that funds of the employee organization cannot be used in support of any political candidate for public office. The case was withdrawn in 2018. [19]

References

  1. “PAC Frequently Asked Questions.” 2020 NEA Annual Meeting, June 17, 2019. https://ra.nea.org/get-engaged/pac-faq/. ^
  2. Center for Responsive Politics. “2020 Outside Spending, by Super PAC.” Opensecrets.org. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2020&disp=O&type=S&chrt=D. ^
  3. Center for Responsive Politics. “NEA Advocacy Fund Targeted Candidates, 2020 Cycle.” Opensecrets.org. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cmte=C00489815&cycle=2020. ^
  4. Center for Responsive Politics. “NEA Advocacy Fund Targeted Candidates, 2020 Cycle.” Opensecrets.org. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cmte=C00489815&cycle=2020. ^
  5. “Biden/Harris Victory Speech by President Pringle.” YouTube. YouTube, November 3, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygBJtXtNsVY. ^
  6. “Recommended Candidates.” NEA Fund – Recommended Candidates. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.neafund.org/Home/Candidates. ^
  7. Landrigan, Kevin. “Business, Labor Pouring Late Cash into NH Races.” UnionLeader.com, October 28, 2020. https://www.unionleader.com/news/politics/voters/business-labor-pouring-late-cash-into-nh-races/article_69e5a977-c538-58df-9b6e-140060ea591a.html. ^
  8. Center for Responsive Politics. “NEA Advocacy Fund Targeted Candidates, 2018 Cycle.” Opensecrets.org. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2018&cmte=C00489815. ^
  9. Center for Responsive Politics. “NEA Advocacy Fund Targeted Candidates, 2016 Cycle.” Opensecrets.org. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cycle=2016&cmte=C00489815. ^
  10. Center for Responsive Politics. “NEA Super PAC Targeting Tillis.” Opensecrets.org. October 23, 2014. December 17, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/10/nea-super-pac-targeting-tillis/. ^
  11. “NEA ADVOCACY FUND – 2019-2020 Committee Overview.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00489815/?tab=summary. ^
  12. “NEA Advocacy Fund Disbursements.” FEC.gov. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/disbursements/?committee_id=C00489815. ^
  13. Arnsdorf, Isaac. “Clinton Super PAC Dropped $23 Million in June.” POLITICO, July 20, 2016.https://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/clinton-super-pac-fundraising-225908. ^
  14. “NEA ADVOCACY FUND – 2017-2018 Committee Overview.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00489815/?tab=summary. ^
  15. “NEA Leadership Competency Guide.” National Education Association. Accessed December 17, 2020. https://www.nea.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/NEA_Leadership_Competency_Guide.pdf. ^
  16. “FEC Form 1 Statement of Organization.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00489815/1300686/. ^
  17. “Lisa Robillard.” LinkedIn. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-robillard-8ba5099. ^
  18. “Lisa Robillard.” LinkedIn. Accessed December 18, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-robillard-8ba5099. ^
  19. “Trometter v. National Education Association.” The Fairness Center, August 3, 2020. https://www.fairnesscenter.org/cases/trometter-v-national-education-association/. ^

Associated Organizations

  1. NEA Foundation (Non-profit)
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