Irony Alert: A New “Statewide Effort” Against Corruption Is, Well, Corrupt.

Oh, this is rich. WNYC reports today on a meeting Saturday of “New Jersey activists” called “Take Back NJ” who want the Legislature to pass “an ethics package…that takes aim at what they call ‘soft corruption’ –the ways the activists say money, patronage and the layout of the ballot undermines democracy.”

Who are the leaders of this “statewide effort” referred to in the article?

None other than New Jersey Working Families and people like Rutgers Professor Julia Sass Rubin, both of whom benefit from money and patronage, largely from the deep coffers of the New Jersey Education Association.

As reported on this blog last November, New Jersey Working Families is a “dark money” group that refuses to disclose a full list of its donors. Here’s what we know: Working Families is funded by public sector unions like NJEA, the Communications Workers of America, and the Service Employees International Union. We do know that the NJEA has given Working Families at least $845,000.

From that earlier blog post, courtesy of Mike Lilley:

We do know that the NJEA specifically mentions Working Families in its strategic planning for its political campaigns to raise taxes, increase state education aid and boost funding for its members’ compensation and benefits. And thanks to some digging by Politico, we do know that the NJEA-controlled, Murphy-supporting dark money group New Direction New Jersey gave Working Families an additional $100,000. So that’s at least $945,000 attributable to the NJEA.

We also know that Citizen Action, NJ Policy Perspective, and Blue Wave have received funding from the NJEA, and that they have actively collaborated with Working Families in political actions…these groups form a small part of the vast, interconnected network of allies that the NJEA supports and mobilizes to bolster its political agenda…Just as Working Families provides foot soldiers for the NJEA’s favored candidates, so does Working Families provide foot soldiers to protest corporate incentives.

The WNYC article notes that the audience on Saturday heard from presenters who explained that “the powerful keep their power” by “secret PAC donations.” But that’s exactly how Working Families gets its cash. Gov. Phil Murphy has a “dark money” PAC (i.e. donors can be invisible) called“New Directions New Jersey.” After Murphy’s PAC was shamed into releasing a list of its donors, we found out that New Directions is largely funded by NJEA with $4.5 million of teachers’ dues.  Murphy, in fact, has stated publicly that “he coordinates with the NJEA on the [New Directions] ad campaigns and routinely consults with the NJEA on policy, going so far as to say he has ‘spoken to the NJEA constantly’ over the last five years.”

Give us a break, New Jersey “activists”: Saturday’s event was a meet-up of the beneficiaries of a corrupt system that privileges the powerful over NJ’s  most disenfranchised families –and want to keep it that way. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.


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