Exposing Illicit Teachers Union Activity

The election law complaint filed by two Fort Collins parents against the teachers union, a story I have covered off & on here for the past 18 months, recently featured an important appeals court decision – namely, that the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and its local affiliate the Poudre Education Association (PEA) stepped over the legal boundaries by coordinating with the campaign of state senator Bob Bacon in 2004. I wrote it up in an op-ed for the Independence Institute last week.

Personally, my favorite tidbit to share from the op-ed is one of the CEA lawyer’s main arguments in defense of his clients:

[Attorney Mark] Grueskin argued not only that CEA and PEA acted independently but also that their involvement was unreliable. He said that Bacon would have benefited had union officials and volunteers not solicited voters on his behalf.

“I think Bacon would have been better served had he put all that literature in an airplane and just dumped it out over the district someplace,” Grueskin told the three-judge Court of Appeals panel. He suggested that some PEA volunteers might have picked up their assigned literature and thrown it into the trash rather than delivering it to voters’ houses.

Unfortunately, though, the editors of the Rocky Mountain News beat me to the good headline, placing it over Peter Blake’s July 22 column: “Court rules Bacon’s election illegally greased by teachers.” (Though I would be more careful to make the distinction between teachers and the union.)

Primary source material on the court ruling is out there on the Web:

  • The official ruling from the Court of Appeals
  • The official recording of oral arguments made before the Court of Appeals
  • Potentially the most significant result that could occur from this decision is a curtailing of coordinated union-candidate political action in Colorado. Concerned citizens can be the eyes and ears to see whether the teachers union – or any other union – is crossing the line into illicit activity.

    Previous coverage of this story at Mount Virtus:
    “Teachers Union Complaint Appeal Hearing Today” (June 28, 2006)
    “Making Common Cause Against Teachers Unions?” (Sept 7, 2005)
    “Update on Teachers Union Complaint” (May 16, 2005)
    “The Time for Truth in Education” (May 13, 2005)
    “First Hearing on Teachers Union Complaint Today” (May 2, 2005)
    “Unveiling Parents for Truth in Education” (April 22, 2005) [Editor’s note: The Web site parentsfortruth.com is currently offline]
    “Teachers Union Abuses, Agenda” (March 3, 2005)
    “Trouble for the Teachers Union: The Surface Cracks” (February 23, 2005)


    1. says

      I am not qualified to argue the basis of the legal test for not excluding evidence – your determination that it was “bogus” is at least highly disputable among those that know. Second, much of the evidence was obtained through other means.

      I am, however, amused that this is the only leg on which you choose to stand to defend the actions of union officials. “Some of the evidence that proves they tainted the election process was found by digging through their trash, and they have a right to privacy in their trash, you know.”

      Your analagous argument about II, the Catholic Church, or a gun owners association is entirely bogus in itself. For one thing, it can’t be assumed to be parallel, given the type of evidence (Rutt’s case wasn’t built on a union membership list) and the vague and hypothetical nature of the supposed accusations.

      If I’m reading your comment right, you’re basically admitting that union officials were guilty of illegal candidate coordination, but you’re just unhappy that they were caught because of how some of the evidence was obtained.

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