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Michael Gottesman is a retired New Jersey attorney and the founder of the “New Jersey Coalition for Protection of Public Education,” a non-partisan organization designed to provide parents with factual information about school board issues and school board elections, as well as to dispel misinformation and disinformation campaigns.
Over the past several months, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey has been making allegations that the New Jersey Public Education Coalition (NJPEC), that I founded, is a “dark money” vehicle funded by the NJEA. Sunlight seems to be fixated on NJPEC as they continue to make this allegation every couple of weeks on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. In their latest allegation, Sunlight now claims that NJPEC is receiving funds not only from the NJEA but from the NEA as well. Yet they never provide any proof. These allegations are mere supposition and lies.
SO LET ME BE CLEAR, NJPEC has never received any funds from the NJEA, NEA or any teachers union. Nor has any entity that provides funding for our projects and programs.
Additionally, Sunlight and Lilley claim that I am the NJEA’s “legal muscle” in the school board fight and that “with its NJEA backing, NJPEC has all the money it needs to execute its legal threats.” Well, thank you, Mr. Lilley, for the compliment. While I am proud of my legal skills and prowess, to think that a union the size of the NJEA, which probably has dozens of attorney’s on staff, would look to a retired “solo practitioner” attorney to be their “legal muscle.” It warms my heart.
You can see the preposterous nature of the allegation. But that should come as no surprise to anyone. Sunlight’s founder, Michael Lilley, has a history of working for organizations like the “American Enterprise Institute,” the research arm of the The Heritage Foundation. And we all know that while the Heritage Foundation brands itself as a beacon of the intellectual conservative establishment, in reality, the think tank serves as a pipeline of hate. They dedicate significant energy to extremist policy recommendations, denial of access to abortion and birth control, harm to LGBTQ people, anti-union activities, and ending public education and replacing it with private for profit schools.
So Mr. Lilley’s background clearly indicates his current purpose. He figures that if he throws enough BS at the wall, some of it might stick. Further, it is my understanding that Sunlight was created specifically to attack the NJEA. Mr. Lilley uses the standard right wing radical tactics of misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and flat out lies to promote his “rubbish.” But that’s okay because we’ve got his number.
The very first time that Lilley and his “hit job” organization made these allegations, NJPEC advised him they were untrue and a creation of his “conspiracy prone mind.” We demanded proof or a retraction. But NJPEC did more.
NJPEC immediately issued a challenge to Sunlight and Lilly. We offered to produce all of the NJPEC bank records to prove Lilley a liar. But only if Sunlight produced their bank statements as well. This challenge has been repeated numerous times over the past few months.
Mr. Lilley’s response: “Crickets.”
Rather than address and accept the challenge, Lilley and Sunlight “pivoted” and ignored it. So the real questions you should be asking are the following:
Mr. Lilley and Sunlight, What have you got to hide? What are you afraid to show? Where is your funding coming from? What “Dark Money” is funding your enterprise?
In political circles there is a term, “Mirror Propaganda.” It is a hate-speech incitement technique where one falsely attributes to one’s adversaries the intentions or actions that one has for oneself.
Well, Mr.Lilley, I accuse you of just that because the only reason you won’t produce the Sunlight “books” is if Sunlight is the one that is really funded by Dark Money.
So Mr. Lilley, put up or shut up!