BOE accuses NYSUT of illegal $700K shift in 2016

The state Board of Elections’ chief enforcement counsel has filed a complaint alleging that one political arm of New York State United Teachers illegally moved $700,000 to another NYSUT political arm five days before the 2016 general election.

Risa Sugarman’s Oct. 15 complaint alleges the cash shift qualified as a donation that violated a state law that took effect six weeks earlier. That law prohibited a political action committee from giving money to an independent expenditure committee controlled by the same people. In this case, Sugarman contends the giver, New Yorkers for a Brighter Future, was a political action committee, and the receiver, Fund for Great Public Schools, was an independent expenditure committee, and both were overseen by Andrew Pallotta (the current NYSUT president) and Melinda Person.

Her complaint, which will be presented to a hearing officer, seeks up to $700,000 in penalties from New Yorkers for a Brighter Future, Fund for Great Public Schools, Pallotta and Person.

The complaint invokes the candidacy of Chris Eachus, a then Orange County legislator who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Republican state Sen. Bill Larkin that year. Sugarman charges that Fund for Great Public Schools spent money in support of Eachus and two other Democratic Senate candidates – incumbent George Latimer and challenger Leslie Danks Burke – after NYSUT engaged in “strategic communication” with the candidates.

The group spent about $41,000 on mailers for Eachus in September of 2016, three days after Eachus’ campaign emailed a fundraising solicitation to supporters that set a target of $50,000 and that Pallotta received, according to the complaint and one of its exhibits.

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