As I’ve noted here before, it doesn’t pay to get crosswise with Alabama Education Association (the state’s teacher’s union) if you are a candidate for state-wide elective office in Alabama. Here’s an example of the reason why, from the Birmingham News:
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Newly released records show the Alabama Education Association provided every dollar for the $711,000 media blitz that targeted Bradley Byrne and helped defeat him in the Republican runoff for governor.Before the July runoff, a new and secretive organization called the Conservative Coalition for Alabama ran an extensive ad campaign that criticized Byrne’s record in state government. Little was known about the group other than it listed its official address as a rented mail box at a package shipping store in Montgomery.
But a newly released report reviewed by The Associated Press shows its only donor was AEA, which provided $750,000 on June 23. That was one day after the coalition was created.
The coalition, in a quarterly filing with the Internal Revenue Service, said it spent $711,020 — all with the Smart Media Group that placed the anti-Byrne ads.
AEA favored state Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, who won the Republican runoff July 13 with 56 percent of the vote. Byrne, a former state school board member, state senator and two-year college chancellor, had targeted AEA in his campaign and accused the teachers’ organization of being a corrupting influence on state government.
The only remarkable thing about what the AEA did is how utterly unremarkable it was. Bradley Byrne was the only gubernatorial candidate since the ascension to power of Paul Hubbert (the union president) and the AEA that had the cajones to call them out and point out that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and since the AEA pretty much has absolute power–well, you get the picture.
Robert Bentley pretended he had nothing to do with the attack ads on Byrne funded by the AEA. In another article, published Sunday, Oct. 17th, The Birmingham News pointed out otherwise:
Money was tight, and pressure was mounting.
In the days leading up to the July 13 vote that would decide the Alabama Republican Party’s nominee for governor, Robert Bentley and his campaign team were running full tilt, trying to fend off a furious rally by GOP rival Bradley Byrne.
Bentley, throughout the runoff battle, stayed true to his public pledge not to run negative ads. But privately, a daring strategy was taking shape, according to internal e-mails and interviews with campaign officials.
As election day neared and Byrne’s momentum increased, documents show that the Bentley campaign took a calculated risk — reaching out to Byrne’s archenemy, the Alabama Education Association.
The state teachers union was a political powerhouse, with vast sums of money to spend on campaigns, its own polling agency and a get-out-the-vote engine unrivaled in Alabama. But as the backbone of the state Democratic Party, it also was a lightning rod for conservative voters.
To be effective in a GOP runoff, the collaboration between Bentley and the AEA would have to be secret.
Working through back channels with Bentley’s campaign, the AEA pummeled Byrne with a barrage of attack ads and automated phone calls, according to e-mails and telephone records obtained by the Press-Register.
The correspondence appears to contradict Bentley’s repeated statements that he was an “innocent bystander” in the feud between Byrne and AEA. They also could put Bentley in violation of Alabama election law, which requires that candidates disclose in-kind contributions in addition to direct cash.
Neither of the two party nominees, Republican Robert Bentley or Democrat Ron Sparks, have been so foolish as to pledge they’d run the state for all its people, and not just the couple hundred thousand that are AEA members. So the AEA’s union boss, Paul Hubbert, has declared his (and the AEA’s) ambivalence from here. Why care who wins so long as neither candidate poses a threat? Both of them kowtow to Hubbert, just as Bob Riley has done in his eight years in office, so Hubbert’s satisfied with the available ballot choices, now that he’s dispatched with the pesky reformer, Byrne.
Robert Bentley will win, unless Ron Sparks can pull off a miracle in the next two weeks. Bentley’s ads make him sound like he’s running for President against Obama, claiming he’s against Obamacare and for the Tenth Amendment. Which is nice, but unless he’s also for secession and Alabama is successful at it this time, his stand on Obamacare and the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution are totally irrelevant. But the revelation that Bentley, like every politician everywhere, is a liar, might operate to help Sparks out. A more clever politician would be more circumspect in his lying than Bentley, and we do like our politicians to be clever.
Kudo’s to the Birmingham News for doing the requisite digging and point out that a) the AEA poured its vast resources behind beating a potential reformer in Byrne, and b) that Bentley knew and acquiesced, and even sought their help, in his campaign. It’s not often the News is good for anything more than local cheerleading and afternoon fishwrap, but in this instance, they did the public a service in pointing out exactly who controls the political levers in this state.
States and nations everywhere are experiencing the phenomenon of de facto takeover by public sector unions. Examples of the strife that ultimately arises have been on display in New Jersey and California in the United States, and in Greece, France and Portugal in Europe. In the US, the most powerful of the state’s public sector unions–in virtually every state–is the union representing public school teachers and workers. The states now exist to support the teachers, janitors, bus drivers, and especially, administrators. Never mind educating the children. They’re just the donkeys upon whose backs the teacher’s unions ride into town seeking favor.