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Union Spending: Multiple Accounts, Mismatched Records

Samantha Oltman | February 26, 2013

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United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has reported that its campaign spending for the 2013 School Board race jumped from $72,000 to $1.7 million in the past month.  But multiple independent expenditure (IE) accounts and unmatched transfers between the union’s two committees make it difficult to verify the accuracy or completeness of those figures.

According to new financial statements obtained from the LA City Ethics Commission by LA School Report, the teachers union made expenditures through two IE committees, UTLA-PACE, the political action arm of the teachers union, as well as through a related committee, Advocates for Excellence in Los Angeles Schools.

According to the reports filed with the Ethics Commission, both committees are sponsored and controlled by UTLA, but they are considered distinct committees and file separate disclosure reports with the Commission.

It is not unusual for unions to create different IEs for similar purposes. But it makes it difficult to decipher the numbers and flow of money in the latest disclosure reports. The disclosure of the two committees’ big spending on pre-election reports does not match up with itemized expenditures listed on the Ethics website.

For example, UTLA-PACE’s latest financial disclosure form (view here) reports $1.07 million in spending so far this calendar year. But one of its expenditures is a $500,000 transfer to Advocates for Excellence. That transfer is noted as a contribution by Advocates.

However, the expenditure disclosure form for Advocates (view here) notes a separate $628,000 transfer to UTLA-PACE that is reported as an expenditure from Advocates but is not registered as a contribution by UTLA-PACE.

This raises several questions: How much has UTLA actually spent on the LAUSD Board races so far? Why are the two committees transferring these large sums back and forth between them in the first place? Are there any other expenditures or contributions that have not been reported?

LA School Report has reached out to UTLA for comment; we’ll let you know when someone gets back to us.

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