The National Education Association, one of the strongest forces in Democratic politics, claims to make no political expenditures. The IRS is auditing the union to check on that claim. The AP reports:
The IRS is auditing the nation’s largest teachers union, scrutinizing an organization that works energetically to elect candidates but files tax returns reporting zero political expenditures from member dues.
. . . The NEA has tax-exempt status as a union but must report political expenses “direct and indirect” on its tax return. Some of those expenses could be considered taxable by the IRS. It defines a political expense as “one intended to influence the selection, nomination, election or appointment of anyone to a federal, state, or local public office.”
The Associated Press, which first reported on the NEA’s tax returns three years ago, has reviewed the NEA’s filings from years 1993 through 1999 and hundreds of pages of internal NEA documents. The records showed the 2.7 million-member union spent millions of dollars to help elect pro-education candidates, produce political training guides and gather teachers’ voting records.
A July 1999 strategic plan, for instance, stated the union budgeted $4.9 million for the 2000 election for such things as “organizational partnerships with political parties, campaign committees and political organizations.”
Part of the money, the document said, would be spent on a “national political strategy” which involved “candidate recruitment, independent expenditures, early voting, and vote-by-mail programs in order to strengthen support for pro-public education candidates and ballot measures.”
The NEA survived an audit 10 years ago. This time the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation filed a complaint.