Illegal Union Political Spending

Washington state's largest school employee union was fined $400,000 recently for illegally spending some school employees' fee money on political campaigns.

The fine, levied against the Washington Education Association (WEA), is the final outcome of a complaint filed last year by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a public policy organization based in Olympia.

Evergreen accused the WEA of illegally using "agency fees," compulsory fees paid by employees who are not union members but who still must pay for union representation, to fund its political activities. A Washington law requires unions to obtain permission before using agency-fee payers' funds for political purposes. The state Public Disclosure Commission found the WEA guilty of violating this law in September, and the case was referred to the state Attorney General for penalties to be levied.

Last year, the Landmark Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal organization based in Virginia, filed a separate complaint against the National Education Association (NEA). Landmark filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, claiming the NEA "is spending substantial [tax-exempt] general operating funds on taxable political activities, which it has not reported on its tax returns for the last several years."

For more information on becoming an agency-fee payer, or on alleged illegal activities of school employee unions, visit the following sites: