City Councilman Robert Jackson pictured with Speaker Christine Quinn and UFT President Michael Mulgrew in 2011 on the first day of school.
The super PAC for the city teachers union may have violated campaign finance rules by not disclosing spending details for a robocall sent to voters during the 2013 primary elections, GothamSchools has found.
A Sept. 8 phone message touting Robert Jackson's education credentials was paid for by the union's independent expenditure group, called United for the Future, according to a recording of the call obtained by GothamSchools from a Manhattan voter who received the message. Jackson, who at the time was enmeshed in a tight primary for Manhattan Borough President, had received the United Federation of Teachers' endorsement.
But the union failed to disclose the call to the city's Campaign Finance Board, a requirement designed to improve transparency around spending by outside interest groups. The union reported spending only $12,234 on Jackson for a mailer sent on Sept. 6, filings show.
“I think it raises serious questions,” said Alex Camarda, director of public policy at Citizens Union, a good government organization.
"What about all the other candidates that the UFT endorsed?" Camarda added. "This might not be limited to just Robert Jackson."
The teachers union accelerated its political spending this month, pouring nearly $1 million into the campaigns of Bill Thompson and other candidates who received the union's endorsement.
The political committee set up for the United Federation of Teachers, called United for the Future, has so far spent just over $1.5 million on the 2013 elections, campaign filings show. Most has been spent on Thompson, but nearly $300,000 also went to local city council races and $28,000 toward comptroller.
The union is one of several independent groups that have registered with the city's Campaign Finance Board under new transparency laws that require outside groups to disclose how they're spending money during the campaign. The expenditures are permitted as long as they are made without input or communication with campaigns.
So far, 14 such groups have filed spending with the campaign finance board, and the teachers union has been the biggest spender. The next highest spender at $1.3 million is Jobs for New York, Inc., a real estate-backed committee that's focused on local races.
The city teachers union spent more than half a million dollars in less than a month on the campaign trail to support Bill Thompson's mayoral candidacy, new filings show.
The money has paid for more than a dozen mass communication and canvassing campaigns, including several mailings, robo calls, and a radio spot.
The United Federation of Teachers is required to disclose certain details about how it's spending money on the local elections, according to campaign finance laws that were enacted last year. The union's political activities are being managed through a new political committee called United For The Future, which was filed on July 12.
The rules also require organizations to disclose the source of their funding and, according to the UFT's filing, the union appears to have received funding from itself. A political action committee called Educators United, which is registered to 52 Broadway, the same address where the UFT is headquartered, contributed $1 million on Aug. 1.
The UFT endorsed Thompson in June and has vowed to spend millions to back him in a crowded Democratic primary and general elections. It's the first open mayoral election since school governance was given to the mayor's office and education has been a major issue throughout the campaign.
The opening spread of a Bill Thompson education mailer sent out by a new committee called United for the Future.
A political mailer hailing Bill Thompson's education credentials is being sent out by a new political action committee with some vaguely familiar initials.
The committee, United For The Future, hasn't yet registered with the city's campaign finance board and won't have to do so until next month's deadline. A spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers declined to comment, but as Politicker points out (among other things), the committee was filed with the state's Board of Elections last month by Paul Egan, the UFT's political director.
The UFT has endorsed Thompson and promised to back him with millions of dollars to support his candidacy, including advertising buys.
The glossy, four-page spread, which opens up to a large picture of the former comptroller and four black and white images of city life, is a sign of the surge of ads and direct communications that is expected to flood voters' televisions, radios, mailboxes and Facebook feeds in the next 43 days before the Democratic and Republican primaries. Much of the spending will come from outside interest groups working independently of candidates.