H/T to Mount Virtus
During the 2004 Colorado Senate (14th District) election campaign, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and the Poudre, Colorado Education Association (PEA) gave material assistance to the Bob Bacon (D-Fort Collins) campaign. This assistance included using staff for mailings and emails to union members, and recruiting members and non-members for campaign volunteer work.
Colorado law, like that in many other states, prohibits labor unions from making political contributions. Following Bacon’s victory in 2004, Fort Collins residents Wayne Rutt and Paul Marrick filed suit alleging the PEA and its parent organization, the CEA, violated those prohibitions.
A Colorado appeals court originally sided with Rutt & Marrick, but the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that communication with union members is exempt from electioneering laws. The story does not end here, however.
The Landmark Legal Foundation recently filed a complaint with the IRS against the CEA and PEA for failing to report the general funds used during the campaign for Bob Bacon. Neither the CEA nor PEA reporting any political campaign funding for the 2004 tax year. Landmark President Mark R. Levin explains,
The leaders of the CEA and the PEA appear to have turned their unions over lock, stock and barrel to the Bob Bacon for Senate campaign. Hundreds of man-hours and tens of thousands in tax-exempt, teachers’ dues were used for no other purpose than to elect a candidate who would do the unions’ bidding in the state Senate.
The CEA and PEA may have been given a pass from the Colorado Supreme Court, but somehow I doubt the IRS will let this go. Money spent on political campaigns is not exempt from taxes as are union dues. The IRS needs to insist on back taxes, penalties and interest as they would from any other organization that would attempt to avoid paying taxes as required by law.