Sunday, February 01, 2004



It has been interesting to watch the ongoing complaints about the lack of taxes being paid on expenditures for the National Education Association’s political activity. Those complaints are being lodged by Landmark Legal Foundation (see www.landmarklegal.org and look under “Latest Developments,” then “Education”).

Landmark is the nonprofit, public-service law firm that fought for water rights in Nebraska, for school choice in Milwaukee against the NEA and the ACLU, and against judicial tyranny in the infamous school reorganization case and billion-dollar school-funding boondoggle in Kansas City.

According to Landmark, the NEA has spent more than $70 million a year in recent years for an army of more than 1,800 paid political organizers and lobbyists, tied tightly to the Democratic Party. The individuals, called “UniServ directors,” are employed by a union local, but they are selected, trained and funded primarily by the NEA.

The money comes from teachers’ union dues paid into the union’s 13,000 local affiliates. Landmark contends the money was spent to help elect or defeat political candidates. If that is so, the NEA should have paid taxes on it, but didn’t. Union officials have said the expenditures were for “communications” or nonpartisan political efforts.

If Landmark’s complaints hold up with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice, though, the NEA could owe millions of dollars of back taxes to the government. It might even help with some of these budget shortfalls we’ve been facing, also caused by the NEA to some degree: how sweet it is!

That is, ironically, the union will owe back taxes that started out as FRONT taxes. After all, taxpayers are the ones who pay the taxes that wind up as salaries paid to educators, who use them to pay union dues. So if the NEA was evading taxes, it’s a double whammy to those of us who don’t.

And it should be an eye-opener to teachers, who may want to stop and think about what the NEA has become, and do they still want to be associated with it. Part of Landmark’s end-game is to let union members know they have a right to demand a refund on dues spent on politics, and to encourage teachers to break free of union association if they think that’s best.

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