Beginning in 2005, new federal rules required large labor unions like the NEA to report in greater detail (to the U.S. Department of Labor) how they spent their money. Under these new disclosure regulations, it was confirmed that an immense amount of NEA money was being spent for purposes having nothing to do with the union’s purported priorities (i.e., better wages, benefits, and working conditions for teachers and school staff). For example, the NEA reported that during the 2004-05 fiscal year, it had spent $56.8 million on “union administration,” $25 million on “political activities and lobbying,” and $65.5 million on “contributions, gifts, and grants.” In other words, it is possible that up to $90.5 million (the sum of the latter two categories of expenditures) was earmarked for leftist political candidates, organizations, and causes. Among these expenditures were the following:
- $5,070,192 to various Democratic political consultants and strategists
- $500,000 to Protect our Public Schools, to campaign against public charter schools in Washington state
- $300,000 to Citizens United to Protect Our Public Safety, to oppose property tax limits in Maine
- $25,000 to the National Coalition on Health Care, which supports a taxpayer-funded system of socialized medicine
- $5,000 to the National Conference of Black Mayors, a group representing the ideals of its overwhelmingly leftwing members
- $75,000 to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which seeks to help leftwing organizations “more effectively to fight for social, environmental, and economic justice”
- $45,000 to the League of United Latin American Citizens
- $25,000 to the North Carolina Democratic Party Building Fund
- $400,000 to the Fund to Protect Social Security, which seeks to defeat personal investment accounts
- $10,000 to the Rock the Vote Education Fund, which aims to register new young voters who will support leftwing causes and candidates
- $14,000 to the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
- $249,000 to the Floridians for All Committee, which supports “the construction of a permanent progressive infrastructure that will help redirect Florida politics in a more progressive, Democratic direction”
- $250,000 to Alliance for Nevada’s Working Families, “to support [a] ballot measure to increase minimum wage”
- $600,000 to Communities for Quality Education, a political advocacy group created by the NEA
- $5,000 to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a 1.4-million member union that is the Democratic Party’s top donor
- $5,000 to Amnesty International
- $5,000 to the Center For Women’s Policy Studies
- $39,940 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
- $35,000 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
- $45,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, a leftwing think tank that which regularly issues reports claiming that education is underfunded and teachers are underpaid
- $10,000 to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which makes policy recommendations to counter what it views as America’s inherently racist, discriminatory society
- $5,000 to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- $5,000 to the National Association for Bilingual Education
- $7,900 to the National Council of La Raza
- $5,000 to the National Women’s Law Center
- $5,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards
- $13,000 to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which views affirmative action as a policy necessary to help offset America’s allegedly rampant bigotry
- $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization
- $5,000 to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow / PUSH Coalition
- $5,000 to United South and Eastern Tribes, dedicated to “protecting Indian rights and natural resources on tribal lands”
- $5,000 to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which views the U.S. as a nation that discriminates heavily against homosexuals
- $20,000 to Rebuild America’s Schools, which seeks to expand taxpayer funding of school construction and repairs
- $25,750 to the Democratic Leadership Council
- $10,648 to the Children’s Defense Fund
- $51,200 to People for the American Way
- $6,000 to USAction
- $6,000 to the Council on Foreign Relations
- $40,148 to Brazile & Associates, a firm headed by longtime Democratic Party consultant and campaign manager Donna Brazile, which provides diversity training for American businesses, and all types of training for political activists.
“What wasn’t clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party,” said Michael Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog group. “They’re like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups.”
As of 2006, the NEA’s $58 million payroll included over 600 employees and officers, more than half of whom earned salaries exceeding $100,000 per year. NEA President Reg Weaver’s salary was $439,000. As of 2004-05, NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel earned $273,000, and Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen earned $272,000. By contrast, the average classroom teacher earned $48,000.
Though the NEA consistently complains that education in the U.S. is underfunded, government spending on education has in fact outpaced overall economic growth by more than 50 percent since the early 1900s. As of 2004-05, the government was spending an average of $8,701 per year per public-school student.
According to its 2007 financial report, the NEA’s total assets were $188,710,730. Its total receipts for the year were $352,958,087. Moreover, the NEA’s aggressive lobbying of Congress has enabled it to benefit from an archaic law freeing it from having to pay its $1.6 million in annual property taxes. No other labor union in America has been able to negotiate such an arrangement.
An analysis of the NEA’s financial disclosure report for the 2007-08 fiscal year revealed that the union contributed $11.7 million to a wide variety of leftwing advocacy groups, including: ACORN, the AFL-CIO, Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Democracy Alliance, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Urban League, the National Women’s Law Center, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Service Employees International Union, USAction, and the WAND Education Fund.
In November 2009, the NEA website posted a page titled “Recommended Reading: Saul Alinsky, The American Organizer.” This page praised Saul Alinsky’s two books — Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals — as “an inspiration” to “every organizer” and “anyone contemplating action in their community.”
In the 2008 and 2010 election-campaign seasons, the NEA gave a combined total of more than $15.3 million in contributions to federal candidates; 97 percent of that money went to Democrats.