The NJEA and Its Allies Are the Main Funders of Sean Spiller’s Mayoral Campaign

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.[1]  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

NJEA PACNJEA$15,700
Community for Academic ExcellenceWayne EA – NJEA affiliate     6,600
Passaic County EANJEA affiliate     4,000
Marie Blistan and FamilyNJEA President     2,700
Marcia MarleyBlueWaveNJ – NJEA ally     2,100
Sean SpillerNJEA Vice President     1,698
Carol PierceNJEA     1,500
Ed FarmerComm. to Build Economy – NJEA ally     1,000
Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, et al.Law firm representing NJEA        600
Mayrose WegmanNJEA        500
Bergen County EANJEA affiliate        200
TOTAL $36,598

Source: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission

An Even Deeper Conflict of Interest for a Mayor Spiller

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.

[1]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.

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