The NJEA, a politically connected special interest group, paid for Murphy’s new TV ad, policy group says.
By Mike Lilley
The NJEA-funded, dark-money group New Direction New Jersey (NDNJ) is out with a new $1 million advertising campaign.
In its first TV ad, Gov. Phil Murphy is front and center calling for a millionaire’s tax, “tax fairness” and for New Jersey’s millionaires to pay their “fair share.”
The NJEA has consistently called for the millionaire’s tax. Just this week, NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty called for the millionaire’s tax to “achieve tax fairness” so millionaires “do their fair share.” The similarity to Governor Murphy’s language is striking.
Remember, too, that the NJEA was “all-in” for Murphy as a candidate, taking such unprecedented steps as endorsing him in the Democratic primary and setting up Members4Murphy to organize its members in support of his candidacy. Indeed, the NJEA political operator who ran Members4Murphy is now a senior member of Murphy’s staff.
So, the governor of New Jersey appears in a TV ad paid for by the NJEA calling for one of the NJEA’s key policies in the very same language the NJEA uses.
State pay-to-play laws only address contributions by for-profit businesses seeking government contracts, so the NJEA’s role here does not implicate pay-to-play laws. But if part of the purpose of pay-to-play laws is to ensure that private entities do not have undue influence over political decisions, it certainly seems to violate the spirit of that purpose. And it certainly creates the perception of undue influence by a special interest. All of which further erodes public trust in government.
In a particularly rich irony, Philip Swibinski, spokesman for NDNJ, justified the ad by saying: “this movement looks to a future focused on fairness for all of New Jersey’s families rather than serving the special interests and politically connected.”
But wait a minute: the NJEA is a politically connected special interest! Yet NDNJ is more than happy to take its $2.5 million and serve its special interests.
And we cannot forget that the NJEA’s $2.5 million for NDNJ comes from teachers’ dues, which are funded by property tax dollars.
New Jersey teachers need to know that their hard-earned dollars are funding a shadowy, dark-money group that erodes public trust in government. New Jersey citizens need to know that their sky-high property taxes are boosting the political influence of a special interest.
They deserve better.
Mike Lilley is the president and founder of the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey. The organization issued a report, “NJEA: New Jersey’s Political Machine,” this week which detailed how the NJEA’s has allocated at least $2.5 million to New Direction New Jersey, the controversial group supporting Governor Murphy’s agenda.