This is a guest post by Michael Lilley, Founder and President of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey, which seeks to educate residents on the way NJEA “uses their tax dollars against their own interests, secures benefits for the few over the many, and blocks needed reforms.” This was originally published on SPCNJ’s website.
As detailed in SPCNJ’s previous report, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Vice President Sean Spiller is the most famous graduate of the NJEA’s Political Leadership Academy. The academy trains NJEA members to run for office, but the NJEA support for Spiller’s mayoral run goes well beyond training and includes a lot of hard dollars.
True to the NJEA’s modus operandi of outspending its electoral opponents, the NJEA and its allies are the generous funders of Spiller’s campaign. Out of the total of $57,583 Spiller has raised for his run, $36,598 has come from the NJEA, its employees, its affiliates and its allies. That’s 65 percent of Spiller’s funding that is tied to the NJEA. We did not include Governor Murphy’s $2,600 donation in this tally, but given the governor’s especially cozy relationship with the NJEA, maybe we should have.
DONOR NJEA AFFILIATION AMOUNT
|Community for Academic Excellence||Wayne EA – NJEA affiliate||6,600|
|Passaic County EA||NJEA affiliate||4,000|
|Marie Blistan and Family||NJEA President||2,700|
|Marcia Marley||BlueWaveNJ – NJEA ally||2,100|
|Sean Spiller||NJEA Vice President||1,698|
|Ed Farmer||Comm. to Build Economy – NJEA ally||1,000|
|Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, et al.||Law firm representing NJEA||600|
|Bergen County EA||NJEA affiliate||200|
Source: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission
Should Spiller become mayor, this substantial NJEA funding deepens his conflict of interest. As Vice President of the NJEA, Spiller has a fiduciary duty to his members (including the Montclair Education Association) to advance and protect their interests. NJEA members have also made Spiller a wealthy man, paying him an estimated $2.1 million as an elected officer. Now it’s clear that the NJEA and its allies are the main funders of Spiller’s campaign.
How can Spiller square these facts with his fiduciary duty to represent the interests of the citizens of Montclair? On the same grounds that the Superior Court judged ruled, he cannot.
See SPCNJ’s “A Spider Web of Political Power and Influence” for a full discussion of BlueWaveNJ and Committee to Build the Economy’s ties to the NJEA.