Ohio Union Honors Leftist Blog with “Friend of Education” Award

Ohio Education Association (OEA) recently recognized Plunderbund, a leftist blog close to the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP), with the union’s annual Friend of Education Award.

Plunderbund was founded by Eric Vessels, who briefly left the blog to help Brian Rothenberg launch “progressive” activist group ProgressOhio. Rothenberg, who is still ProgressOhio’s executive director, was ODP communications director when he was selected for the job.

Left-wing attorney Brian Hester’s work for Plunderbund landed him his current position as deputy communications director for ODP.

“The OEA Friend of Education Award is awarded to an individual or organization whose leadership actions and support have contributed to the improvement of public education on a statewide or national level,” an announcement in the June issue of OEA’s magazine explained.

Plunderbund’s receipt of the Friend of Education Award is one small example of the huge amount of energy — and member dues — OEA spends promoting “progressive” politicians and big-government policies while claiming to speak for all Ohio teachers.

Last year, hard-left union shill and MSNBC host Ed Schultz was recognized as OEA’s “Friend of Education.” OEA staff frequently promote vitriol from Schultz, Plunderbund, and union-friendly leftist sources through OEA’s official social media accounts.

In 2012, the union’s Ohio Schools magazine included a note that annual publication costs were $6.51 per member. At the time, OEA had 124,000 members — which means the union spent over $800,000 on Ohio Schools that year.

Like everything else OEA does, the magazine pushes the idea that supporting public education means supporting politicians who will expand government.

The June 2014 issue of Ohio Schools, for example, included a two-page story promoting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and a full-page story encouraging readers to donate to OEA’s Fund for Children and Public Education political action committee.

Recent issues of Ohio Schools no longer bear any indication of the magazine’s cost to members.

The OEA Fund for Children and Public Education is routinely at or near the top of ODP’s donor list in campaign finance reports. OEA topped the list this spring, contributing $150,000 to the party.

The largest labor union in the state, OEA takes around $700 per year from teachers in school districts across Ohio regardless of whether those teachers want to join the union. Employees of OEA are paid an average of $100,000 per year with money taken from teachers.

The union had 119,818 members as of August 31, 2013, a decrease of 2,286 from the previous year. Despite updating the first page of Ohio Schools to list new officers, OEA still describes the magazine as “The professional publication of more than 121,000 members of the Ohio Education Association.”

OEA is currently in the process of settling a class-action suit filed by current and former Ohio teachers who accuse the union of charging excessive “fair share” fees to nonmembers.

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Ohio Democrats Are a Party Of, By, and For Big Labor

Labor union influence over the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) would be difficult to overstate, as the latest campaign finance reports once again confirm.

Unions continue pouring money into ODP accounts and the campaigns of the Democrats’ statewide candidates. Most of the state’s largest unions had endorsed the entire Democrat ticket by the end of 2013.

However, funding and endorsements aren’t the only reasons rhetoric from ODP and its candidates strongly resembles union “solidarity” talking points.

Of ODP’s eight current directors, three — executive director Liz Walters, communications director Meredith Tucker, and data director Darren Kregger — came to ODP from union front group We Are Ohio. Earlier this year, half of ODP’s directors were former We Are Ohio staffers.

Ohio Democratic Party

During the pre-primary reporting period, 5 of ODP’s top 10 donors were labor unions. Ohio Education Association (OEA) topped the list of all contributors with a $150,000 gift.

Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), an affiliate of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), tied for second with an individual donor from New York, contributing $50,000.

AFSCME affiliates Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) and AFSCME Council 8 each donated $25,000 to ODP, tied for fifth on the list with an individual donor from California and another from Cleveland.

ODP’s top contribution during the post-primary reporting period was a tie between AFSCME headquarters in DC and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199, which each donated $100,000.

With $25,000 contributions to ODP, OAPSE and Ohio AFL-CIO tied for fourth with an individual donor from Cincinnati.

ODP State Candidate Fund

Excluding contributions from ODP statewide candidates’ own accounts, the top donors to the ODP State Candidate Fund are routinely state and national labor unions.

During the pre-primary reporting period, SEIU District 1199 gave a combined $72,933 from its legally-distinct political action committee and political contributing entity accounts.

Communications Workers of America (CWA) headquarters in DC gave $36,467, while AFSCME and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) each sent $36,466 from their DC offices.

United Steelworkers of America (USW) District 1 contributed $35,000, and Ohio AFL-CIO gave $20,000.

During the post-primary reporting period, the top contributors to the ODP State Candidate Fund were OEA and the DC headquarters of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Both donated $36,467.

Governor: Friends of FitzGerald-Neuhardt

Of the FitzGerald campaign’s top 10 non-individual contributions reported in yesterday’s monthly campaign finance filing, 9 came from labor unions. The tenth was from ODP.

AFSCME headquarters in DC came within a rounding error of the maximum contribution, sending $12,155 to the Democrat’s campaign.

Although FitzGerald had already received over $300,000 from labor unions by the end of 2013, unions gave a total of $79,266 to FitzGerald’s campaign during the latest reporting period.

Treasurer: Friends of Connie Pillich

Sort the non-individual contributions in Pillich’s latest campaign finance report from largest to smallest, and you won’t find a donor that isn’t ODP or a labor union in the first 24 rows.

Of the $507,862 in contributions Pillich reported yesterday, $147,565 came directly from labor unions.

Pillich received $12,155 from AFSCME headquarters in DC.

Attorney General: Citizens for Pepper Committee

In David Pepper’s latest campaign finance report, 9 of the top 10 and 14 of the top 16 non-individual contributions came from labor unions. The top non-individual contributor was ODP.

Of the $356,427 in contributions Pepper reported yesterday, $86,054 came directly from labor unions.

Pepper received $12,155 from AFSCME headquarters in DC.

 Secretary of State: Friends of Nina Turner

Nina Turner’s top 5 donors during the latest reporting period were all labor unions.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) headquarters in DC and USW District 1 each donated $12,156. AFSCME headquarters in DC donated $12,155.

Ohio State Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters gave Turner $12,000, as did United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters headquarters in Maryland.

Turner reported contributions totaling $251,653 in yesterday’s campaign finance report. Of that total, $87,160 came directly from labor unions.

Auditor: Citizens to Elect John Patrick Carney

Of the $206,123 in contributions Carney’s campaign reported for the latest campaign finance period, $108,999 came directly from labor unions.

Carney’s top 5 donors — and 7 of his top 8 — were labor unions. AFSCME sent $12,155 from its DC headquarters, and United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters sent $12,000 from its Maryland headquarters.

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Dispatch Publisher, Wife Donate Another $24,000 to Kasich

Dispatch Printing Company Chairman and CEO John Wolfe and his wife Ann donated another $24,000 to Ohio Governor John Kasich’s campaign last week, campaign finance records reveal.

John and Ann Wolfe each donated $12,000 to Kasich Taylor for Ohio last Tuesday, July 29, based on the campaign’s latest report to the secretary of state. The couple have now contributed a total of $59,000 to the Republican governor’s campaigns since 2010.

John Wolfe had previously donated $14,500 to Kasich Taylor for Ohio and Ann Wolfe had previously donated $20,500.

As the owner of The Columbus Dispatch and Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS-10TV, Dispatch Printing Company is one of the most powerful media companies in the state. As publisher of the Dispatch, John Wolfe is a member of the paper’s editorial board.

Throughout 2013, the Dispatch editors buried extensive evidence that the Obamacare Medicaid expansion was bad policy and attacked its critics.

Gov. Kasich backed the Obamacare expansion, and so did John Wolfe and his employees at the Dispatch. Media Trackers published an in-depth analysis of Dispatch coverage of the issue last summer.

The Dispatch is currently taking a similar approach to Common Core, with reporters sharply critical of repeal efforts and the editorial board bashing Republicans for failing to stick with Gov. Kasich in support of the national education standards.

Daily 10TV news broadcasts and Sunday morning show Capitol Square regularly malign Kasich’s conservative critics and work to minimize their influence.

In addition to owning newspapers and a TV station that serve Ohio’s capital city, Dispatch Printing Company sets the tone for other media outlets statewide because Dispatch staffers dominate the Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association — whose bylaws they break on a constant basis.

John Wolfe is also an Ohio Business Roundtable member and a founding member of Columbus Partnership.

Ohio Business Roundtable and Columbus Partnership, like Wolfe and his media properties, often advocate for bigger government in the name of “pro-business” policies.

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State, Bill Gates, Business Groups Push Common Core in Ohio

A coalition including the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio State Board of Education, and Ohio Chamber of Commerce is fighting to defend Common Core with help from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Currently, Ohio’s New Learning Standards use the national Common Core State Standards for math and English. Legislation supported by Ohio House leadership would rewrite Ohio’s standards and remove Common Core.

The Ohio Standard was launched to promote Common Core. Many of the coalition’s members — such as Thomas B. Fordham Institute — have a vested interest in guaranteeing Common Core takes hold.

Fordham has received over $2.5 million from Gates Foundation, a key financier of Common Core, since 2011. This total includes a $1 million general operating grant awarded last year, and a $1 million grant awarded in part “to track state progress towards implementation of standards.”

Battelle for Kids registered The Ohio Standard’s web address on December 5, 2013, and The Ohio Standard began promoting Common Core on Twitter and Facebook that day. A March press release listed Battelle for Kids Communications Director Kim Ratcliff as The Ohio Standard’s media contact.

Battelle for Kids has received over $2.5 million from Gates Foundation since 2010, the year Democrat Ted Strickland’s administration agreed to implement Common Core in Ohio.

Last July, Battelle for Kids received a $249,808 Gates Foundation grant specifically “to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.”

KnowledgeWorks, another Ohio Standard supporter, received a $241,747 Gates Foundation grant for the same purpose. Gates Foundation has donated over $35 million to KnowledgeWorks since 2001.

Ohio Standard supporter Strive Partnership is a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.

Gates Foundation has given Battelle Memorial Institute more than $17 million since 2007, and awarded KidsOhio.org $300,000 in 2006. Both organizations now support The Ohio Standard.

Ohio Standard supporter Ohio PTA’s national parent received a $499,962 Gates Foundation grant last spring “to educate parents and communities on the Common Core Standards and empower leaders to create the changes needed in their school systems.”

The first Ohio Standard newsletter listed Ohio Business Roundtable’s downtown Columbus office as the coalition’s mailing address; Ohio Business Roundtable initiatives have received millions from Gates Foundation in recent years.

The Ohio Standard spokeswoman Lisa Gray is a consultant working for Gates Foundation and Philanthropy Ohio, another Ohio Standard coalition member. Prior to changing its name to Philanthropy Ohio, Ohio Grantmakers Forum received more than $2 million from Gates Foundation.

In July 2009, Ohio Grantmakers Forum was awarded a $1 million Gates Foundation grantto support the work of a coordinated, common college ready agenda and advocacy strategy for Ohio’s statewide education advocacy organizations.”

Immediately upon joining Twitter, The Ohio Standard fired off a series of the talking points Gates Foundation beneficiaries have repeated the loudest as Ohio parents, teachers, and taxpayers have voiced concerns:


The Ohio Standard is being assisted by hackneyed pro-Common Core reporting and opinion coverage from the state’s legacy press. For example, last Thursday The Columbus Dispatch ran an editorial by Michael Cohen titled, “Common Core came from the states.”

In the seventh of eight paragraphs, Cohen noted in passing that his employer helped develop Common Core. The Dispatch described him simply as “president of the education-reform group Achieve.”

The Ohio Standard shared Cohen’s op-ed, as well as the following morning’s Dispatch editorial attacking Common Core critics.

Conservatives have every reason to support the standards, which have the backing of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and conservative-leaning education-reform groups such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,” the Dispatch editors wrote.

The Dispatch editorial board adores Republican Governor John Kasich — a Common Core supporter — and shares Kasich’s view that “conservative” means whatever the Chamber and big-government Republicans want it to mean.

Coincidentally, Dispatch publisher and editorial board member John Wolfe is a member of Ohio Business Roundtable and is also vice chairman of Columbus Partnership, another Ohio Standard coalition member.

Wolfe and his wife have contributed a total of $35,000 to Gov. Kasich’s campaigns.

The following state agencies, business organizations, foundations, and nonprofits are currently listed as “supporters” of The Ohio Standard:

  • Alliance for High Quality Education
  • Battelle
  • Battelle for Kids
  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators
  • Cincinnati Business Committee
  • Cleveland Foundation
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Coalition of Rural & Appalachian Schools
  • Columbus Partnership
  • Columbus Urban League
  • Eastern Ohio P–16
  • GAR Foundation
  • GE Foundation
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership
  • Gund Foundation
  • Inter-University Council of Ohio
  • KidsOhio.org
  • KnowledgeWorks
  • Learn to Earn Dayton
  • Nordson Corporation Foundation
  • Ohio Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • Ohio Association of Community Colleges
  • Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials
  • Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators
  • Ohio Board of Regents
  • Ohio Business Roundtable
  • Ohio Chamber of Commerce
  • Ohio Department of Education
  • Ohio Educational Service Centers Association
  • Ohio Federation of Teachers
  • Ohio PTA
  • Ohio School Boards Association
  • Ohio State Board of Education
  • Ohio STEM Learning Network
  • Philanthropy Ohio
  • REACHigher (Lorain P–16)
  • State University Education Deans
  • Strive Partnership
  • StudentsFirst Ohio
  • Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Urban League of Greater Cleveland
  • Urban League of Southwest Ohio

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