The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a left-wing advocacy outfit based in Madison, Wisconsin, has called itself a “union shop” in reference to its unionized staff. But it’s a “union shop” in more ways than just that—in a conveniently-timed reversal of a previous position, CMD takes money from labor unions, too.
(CMD doesn’t disclose these union donations on its list of funders. We had to obtain the data from Labor Department filings.)
Among the unions that fund CMD is Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which gave CMD $30,000 for “member related services” in fiscal year 2015. CMD has subsequently released a series of reports attacking charter schools, which are a frequent political and policy opponent of the AFT and other teachers unions.
But the AFT’s ally-turned-paid consultant has been sloppy, as the Arizona Republic reports. In an attempt to attack charter-friendly Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, CMD offered reporters a misleading story about secret meetings and plots:
Emails obtained by CMD from Gov. Ducey’s office reveal that he (and his predecessor) helped propel a secret ‘School Finance Reform Team’ … The stated goal was for everyone on the school reform team to use their ‘different contacts to help get …legislation,’ which would effectively divert more money from public schools to charter school coffers passed.
But when the Republic’s “Political Insider” columnists reviewed the “secret” emails themselves, they found “nothing of the kind.” CMD was forced to issue a correction admitting that their premise was wrong. In the Republic’s words, CMD “used a handful of innocent emails to spin a conspiracy that just wasn’t real.”
Perhaps next time AFT decides to throw good member money after bad research, they’ll choose a “union shop” with more credibility and less desire to make reporters look sloppy in the service of a hatchet job.