Who are the “Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools?”

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So who exactly is “Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools?”

That was the question that led me to spend some time looking at Political Action Committee filings at the Maine Ethics Commission’s website.

All I knew about CWSMPS, as I will call it, was they have raised and spent a massive sum of money – $650,000 – to defeat Question 4, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

So who are they, and where did this money come from?

It turns out that CWSMPS has been around for some time and is essentially a pass-through organization for contributions from the National Education Association (NEA). It is run out of the Maine Education Association (MEA) headquarters in Augusta.

The earliest documents available on the Ethics Commission website suggest that CWSMPS was first launched, with a hefty $300,000 contribution from the NEA, to support the 2004 initiative from the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) requiring the state to pay 55% of the total cost of public education.

The next target for CWSMPS was the 2006 TABOR initiative. Between the beginning of June, 2006 and the October 27th of that year, the NEA alone pumped well over $500,000 into the campaign against TABOR, with CWSMPS serving as the pass-through entity. Though most of that money went directly to the organization managing the campaign against TABOR, CWSMPS did quite a bit of campaign work itself, hiring consultants and producing campaign ads and materials.

CWSMPS started off 2009 with about $400 in the bank, but plenty more was on the way. In March, the MMA contributed $10,000 to CWSMPS. The MEA itself followed up with a $40,000 contribution in June. On July 10th, a $350,000 check arrived from the NEA, the bulk of which was forwarded on to Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future (CUMF), the primary PAC opposing Question 4. 

$250,000 more showed up from the NEA on October 6th, and was promptly forwarded on to CUMF days later.

So the “citizens” in “Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools,” this year at least, are really not citizens at all, but three powerful tax-and-spend special interests – the NEA, and MEA, and the MMA. Together, they have contributed all of the $650,000 that CWSMPS has raised and spent opposing Question 4.

That $650,000 makes up the lion’s share of the $1.7 million that CUMF has raised to fight Question 4, making the NEA by far the largest single contributor to the campaign against TABOR II.

Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools? Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future?

“Out-of-State Tax and Spend Special Interests” who do these things might be more accurate.