An analysis of campaign finance records reveals that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spent far more on November’s Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) elections than previously reported.
According to filings with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, Orleans Future PAC, a political action committee launched by AFT in late-September of last year, spent nearly $345,000 in the seven weeks leading up to Election Day.
|AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS||Washington||DC||9/30/16||$144,000.00|
|AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS||Washington||DC||10/20/16||$225,483.00|
|Holly Giarraputo (AFT’s campaign finance compliance consultant)||Missoula||MT||9/12/16||$150.00|
Although the committee officially backed three school board candidates, including incumbents Nolan Marshall and Leslie Ellison, it appeared that the bulk of their efforts focused on the race in District 6, where political newcomer David Alvarez was running to unseat Woody Koppel, who has backed the city’s school reform efforts during his tenure on the board.
As previously noted, Orleans Future PAC supported Alvarez’s bid with direct mail and digital advertising, but their campaign reports also show that AFT paid for door-to-door canvassing as well. Nevertheless, in spite of AFT’s well-financed efforts, Koppel went on to defeat Alvarez with 53% of the vote.
However, the most interesting revelation from Orleans Future PAC’s disclosures isn’t how much much AFT spent, but how they spent it. With the exception of Orleans Future PAC’s $100 registration fee to the Board of Ethics, every dollar AFT spent on New Orleans’ school board elections went to out-of-state consultants and media firms.
|GBI STRATEGIES, LLC||Cordova||TN||Payroll expenses-canvassing||10/3/16||$39,000.00|
|HART RESEARCH ASSOCIATES||WASHINGTON||DC||Polling||10/7/16||$37,500.00|
|GBI STRATEGIES, LLC||Cordova||TN||Payroll expenses||10/27/16||$20,000.00|
|GBI STRATEGIES, LLC||Cordova||TN||Payroll expenses||10/21/16||$39,000.00|
|GBI STRATEGIES, LLC||Cordova||TN||Digital advertising||11/3/16||$45,000.00|
|TERRIS, BARNES & WALTERS||San Francisco||CA||Printing-Canvassing materials||11/3/16||$5,984.75|
|TERRIS, BARNES & WALTERS||San Francisco||CA||Printing-Direct mail||10/23/16||$136,700.57|
|LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS||Baton Rouge||LA||Registration Fee||9/12/16||$100.00|
|CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC.||MIssoula||MT||Accounting fee||10/7/16||$1,075.47|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||10/3/16||$25.00|
|CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC.||MIssoula||MT||Accounting fee||11/4/16||$1,080.45|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||10/20/16||$10.00|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||10/21/16||$25.00|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||10/25/16||$25.00|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||10/28/16||$25.00|
|FIRST INTERSTATE BANK||Missoula||MT||Bank fee||11/4/16||$25.00|
|FREESTONE COMMUNICATIONS||St. Louis||MO||Political consultant/travel||11/4/16||$16,418.09|
|AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS||Washington||DC||Refund||12/1/16||$25,638.67|
|CAMPAIGN COMPLIANCE, INC.||MIssoula||MT||Accounting fee||12/1/16||$2,000.00|
Although AFT’s last-minute involvement in the OPSB races caught many political observers by surprise, recent developments suggest it’s part of a broader push by the union to reestablish itself in New Orleans. AFT’s F.Y. 2015 and F.Y. 2016 reports to the U.S. Department of Labor show that the union has also steered more than $1.1 million towards organizing efforts in New Orleans since 2014.
Given the outcome of the recent OPSB elections and the mixed results AFT has had with organizing, it certainly doesn’t seem like money well spent.
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