How Much Does NEA Spend on Politics?

October 19, 2010

How Much Does NEA Spend on Politics?

posted at 6:33 pm on October 18, 2010 by Mike Antonucci

The first thing we have to do is to divide NEA into its three components – national, state and local. Though money is extracted from members’ paychecks in one lump sum, its division and destination depend on federal and state laws. NEA’s national headquarters expects to bring in $358 million in 2010-11.

I have been asked this question, in some form, at least once a week for the past 13 years. I’m afraid my answer invariably fails to satisfy. I respond:

What do you mean by “NEA” and what do you mean by “politics?”

Therein lies the main difficulty with placing an indisputable figure on the cash amount. One man’s “politics” is another man’s “member communication.” Some think “political spending” is limited to donations to candidates. Others think it’s every dollar not directly related to bargaining contracts for local teachers.

I’ll do my best to work you through it – from the broadest interpretation to the narrowest and from national to local – with examples from the current election cycle. Fair warning, though: The results are nuanced and overlapping.

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