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We now have a little more transparency in the opaque world of New Jersey’s progressive dark money and activist network, but the key question is: who provides the funding for dark-money Super PAC Education Truth Project (ETP)? As Sunlight laid out exhaustively, the circumstantial evidence points strongly to ETP being an NJEA (and/or its parent, NEA) front and we welcome anyone to disprove it.
ETP has been the dark money behind the muscle provided by NJ Public Education Coalition (NJPEC) in their campaign to intimidate school boards that have resisted progressive sex ed policies and such (previously detailed here). In a recent email forwarded to Sunlight, ETP explicitly refers to NJPEC as an “affiliate of” ETP, which in legal terms means that NJPEC is controlled by, controls or is under common control with ETP. Since we know NJPEC is funded by and is an affiliate of ETP, this makes it highly likely that it is ETP that controls NJPEC or that some other entity controls them both. Hmmm.
NJPEC’s affiliate status further underscores the mendacity of NJPEC’s founder, Michael “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman. Previously, Gottesman claimed that NJPEC was not funded by ETP despite NJPEC’s website and press releases explicitly saying “Paid for by Education Truth Project.” Now we know that NJPEC is an affiliate of ETP — but you’re still insisting that there’s no funding, right, Mr. Gottesman?
This is not the first time Gottesman had a tenuous relationship with the truth. Recall that Gottesman also made the blatantly false claim to the Star-Ledger that “right-wing extremist” groups had “hundreds of millions of dollars being donated to them in New Jersey” to take over school boards. “Hundreds of millions” is absurd on its face, and Gottesman has not — indeed, he cannot — provide a shred of evidence to back it. Yet he said it and has not retracted it. This is why Gottesman has earned the moniker Mr. “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman.
And then there is the relationship to the NJEA (and/or NEA). Per ETP’s ELEC filing, we know that some deep-pocketed New Jersey funder is providing hundreds of thousands of dollars of dark money to ETP. And we know that the NJEA has a long history of funding a network of activist groups that serve its purposes, often using dark money to hide its tracks. Because it is dark money, we can only build a circumstantial case — but it is a strong circumstantial case.
All of which beings us back to Mr. “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman and NJPEC. By all appearances, and if history is any guide, it looks very much like NJPEC is the muscle of an NJEA operation to intimidate school boards across New Jersey, with ETP as the dark money intermediary. While ETP and NJPEC seek to demonize their school board opponents as “right wing extremists” and “white nationalist organizations,” they are mostly just parents who want to have more say in the education of their children. Apparently, it’s unacceptable for a parent to have good-faith objections to progressive sex ed programs and such, and they must be bullied and strong-armed by the likes of Mr. “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman and NJPEC.
With the bomb-throwing and mendacious “Hundreds of Millions” Gottesman in the lead, it would make sense for the NJEA to hide its role in such a controversial and fraught campaign.