The assertion that the recall effort of three Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education members is a grassroots effort was weakened this week when new revelations from required campaign finance reports showed union and political trends in funding and expenses.
In fact, Secretary of State (SOS) campaign finance reports show it is really an organized effort with non-union members playing front men against the three Jeffco members now up for recall.
Although three “parents” are billed as having planned and executed the recall without any help from the union, Complete Colorado continues to uncover connections between Jeffco United and the union that represents the Jeffco teachers.
In addition to the fact the two share spokeswoman Lynea Hansen, the most notable are SOS documents filed Tuesday that show large donations from the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) to both the recall effort and the candidates running to replace the three board members targeted in the effort.
The donations should not come as a surprise given that the union has vowed for more than a year to launch a recall.
JCEA proclaimed in 2014 that “we have a unique opportunity to beat these bas_ _ _ _ _ back,” with the “deleted” word presumably being “bastards” against the three Jeffco members now up for recall.
Additionally, JCEA President John Ford promises his membership soon after that the “fight will start in January,” (2015).
The ties between groups are sometimes double and triple knotted.
Jeffco United for Action and Jeffco United Forward, the two committees that back the recall effort, are registered to collect their checks at the same post office as another anti-reform committee.
The location of the boxes appears to be much more than a coincidence. ESDC’s physical address is nearly 15 miles to the north in Thornton, Jeffco United for Action is 20 miles southwest in Indian Hills, and Jeffco United Forward is 25 miles southwest in Evergreen.
The common denominator for all three boxes is that the JCEA office on Nelson Street is just under four miles down Colfax Avenue from the Edgewater location.
ESDC, an independent expenditure committee says in Colorado Secretary of State documents that its purpose is “to support candidates of any political party statewide who support sensible reform in Colorado Public Schools” – and Jeffco United Forward don’t have their first reports due until January; therefore full details of contributors will not be known until long after the election is over.
ESDC has launched a costly campaign against Adams 12 Five Star Schools board incumbent Norm Jennings with three highly charged, full-color mailers claiming Jennings “suckered” the district, “railroaded” the district, and “took the district for a ride.”
Other big money contributions are also coming to light thanks to earlier reporting deadlines for small donor committees. JCEA, and the Colorado Education Association (CEA) both had to file reports earlier this week.
JCEA, which has repeatedly said it is not a part of the recall effort, reported donating $15,000 to Jeffco United Forward and $9,000 to each of the recall candidates put forth by Jeffco United to replace Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk.
Another group, Educators for Public Education – one of the many donor arms of the CEA – donated $3,000 to recall candidate Susan Harmon on Oct. 14. While Harmon reported it on her required filing, the group, which is registered to Boulder-based attorney and current CEA executive director Brad Bartels, failed to report it on its own Oct. 15 report.
Those candidates—Brad Rupert, Ron Mitchell, and Harmon—have said at candidate forums that they are candidates with no political connections, yet they have spent the majority of their funds with Mad Dog Mail, a Florida campaign messaging firm that only works with Democrats, said Jen Butts, spokeswoman for Jeffco Students First Action, which is campaigning against the recall.
Mad Dog Mail’s website says they are “strong, tough Democrats who fight against Republicans.” It further boasts the company only works with Democrat campaigns.
Candidate Ali Lasell, who is running for one of the two vacated seats, spent one third of her contributions with Mad Dog.
“When we saw that one third of Ali Lasell’s campaign spending was with Mad Dog Mail, we hoped it was an anomaly,” Butts said. “We were quite disappointed to see a slate that insists it is ‘middle of the road’ spending their funds with such a clearly partisan organization. When these candidates say they will work with everyone but spend their money with partisan organizations, it makes us question how they will work to listen to all Jeffco voices.”
News story originally posted on Complete Colorado on October 24, 2015.