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Podesta emails show NEA behind the scenes on the Clinton endorsement



Candidate Hillary Clinton and NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia


Date: 2016-03-13 17:06

Subject: From Bill Ivey

…Secretary Clinton is not an entertainer, and not a celebrity in the Trump, Kardashian mold; what can she do to offset this? I’m certain the poll-directed insiders are sure things will default to policy as soon as the conventions are over, but I think not. And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.

There should be concern when union leaders cozy up to established power rather than work in the best interest of their members.

I keep my ear to the ground on what teachers are saying around the country and after reading comments shared on Facebook and Twitter, it sounded like the fix was in on endorsing Hillary Clinton by the National Education Association (NEA) well before the primary. There were several teachers online who voiced dissatisfaction with an early endorsement of candidate Hillary Clinton without participation of the majority of members.

To follow is an excerpt from an article written by Steve Singer titled The NEA May Be About to Endorse Hillary Clinton Without Input From Majority of Members that was published on September 21, 2015.

The largest labor union in the United States may be about to endorse Hillary Clinton for President without a poll of its membership.

Leadership at the National Education Association (NEA) has been making troubling moves toward endorsing Clinton that could commit the organization to supporting the Democratic presidential hopeful with no regard for the wishes of its 3.2 million members.

An endorsement could come as early as Oct. 2-3 when President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is expected to propose a primary endorsement of Clinton at the NEA Board meeting, according to multiple NEA sources. Then the PAC council would vote. If approved, it would go to the board for a final decision.

However, since this is only an endorsement for the primary election, the matter would not need to go before the Representative Assembly (RA). In effect, the move could sidestep the voices of the RA’s 8,000 delegates representing state and local affiliates, student members, retired members, and other segments of the united education profession.

The decision would be made by a handful of leaders and the PAC council. Though there are thousands of PAC council votes, they are distributed by the amount of money raised by each state’s members. This means that little states like Delaware – where members donate greatly – have a larger vote relative to their membership than other states.

The voices of the great majority of members would be silenced.

Already leadership at the highest levels seems to be trying to consolidate Clinton support.

Last Wednesday NEA Directors were invited to an hour-long conference call with Clinton. Few directors were allowed to ask questions and only if those questions had been submitted in advance.

After Clinton left the call, only three state presidents had a moment to speak; all gave positive reflections on Clinton and how she supports teachers and public education.

Despite the fact that several Democrats have been courting the NEA’s endorsement, only Clinton was invited to this call.

Last summer, the NEA invited all presidential candidates to participate in the union’s endorsement process. Only Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders did so. Each made a video statement that was shown at the summer’s RA meeting and posted by many to their local groups. Though more candidates have entered the race since then, none have chosen to interview with the NEA.

Ironically, at the same RA meeting, the assembly voted specifically NOT to ignore rank and file membership before endorsing a Presidential candidate. New Business Item 79 states:

NEA, as an organization, will actively engage in conversation and outreach on the NEA endorsement process with all 2016 Presidential campaigns prior to the consideration of a primary recommendation.

It seems if the leadership goes through with the primary endorsement as outlined above, they may be violating NBI 79.

The move is doubly troubling because of the strong-armed manner in which the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Clinton in July.

Though the AFT Executive Board voted to endorse Clinton, there is little evidence it did so after adequately gauging members opinions through claimed multiple surveys and telephone town halls. The move caused an uproar and claims the AFT endorsed too early and without rank and file support.

Despite politics at the national level of the NEA, some state affiliates have already made endorsements. For instance, Vermont NEA already endorsed Sanders, their state’s Senator.

“We want to let the whole country in on what we in Vermont have long known,” Vermont NEA president Martha Allen said in a statement. “Bernie’s core values are in line with ours: He is pro-family, pro-worker, pro-education and pro-labor and we believe the time has come for his vision to become a national reality.”

Alternatively, the New Hampshire NEA endorsed Clinton in September. Scott McGilvray, NEA-NH president, called Clinton a “tireless fighter” for students and teachers.


The concerns that teachers expressed about leadership not being responsive to membership is confirmed in two emails brought to light by Mike Antonucci at EIA (Education Intelligence Agency) after sifting through the Podesta emails provided by Wikileaks.

In the first post titled Wikileaks Reveals NEA’s Efforts to “Manage the Activists at the RA” Re: Hillary Endorsement Antonucci writes:

Wikileaks is releasing a large number of hacked e-mails to and from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. One of them should be interesting to readers of this blog, who include both those who follow the inner workings of teachers’ unions and those who are the inner workings of the teachers’ unions.

It’s a June 17, 2015 memo from Nikki Budzinski, the Clinton campaign’s labor outreach director. She describes various status updates with the unions the campaign is courting. It was written only four days after Clinton formally launched her campaign, and two weeks before the National Education Association Representative Assembly (RA) in Orlando.

It suggests that Clinton declined an invitation to attend. Here is the relevant paragraph:

NEA. Today the formal decline for the RA was discussed internally and what steps would be needed next. The NEA (more then (sic) any other union) is more Democratically driven in process. They have requested several future commitments that I have noted in the spreadsheet. They are sincerely doing their best to manage the activists at the RA. It only takes 50 signatures to raise a resolution on the floor and I have been warned about a Northeastern Sanders contingent. I think it would be good to be organized on our own behalf with a few key folks in the room (NH and IA leaders) in case anything comes up. I am a little nervous about this event. That said, their steps are moving toward a October 2nd/3rd endorsement all going to plan. I would love to know any thoughts on this you might have.

Delegates to the RA and NEA’s many Sanders supporters may have thought they were participating in an open debate over which candidate to endorse in the Democratic primary. They did not know that NEA’s leaders already had a plan in place to endorse Clinton before she had even formally announced.

Sure, many of them suspected there was manipulation going on , but it’s quite another to find the cold evidence in a campaign memo. And, in fact, Hillary was endorsed at the NEA board meeting on October 3, after she was forced to make a last-minute personal appearance.


In the second post Wikileaks: NEA Was Ready to Call Off Hillary Endorsement Vote, Antonucci writes:

The release by Wikileaks of the e-mails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, revealed that the leaders of the National Education Association were determined to win an endorsement for Clinton well before determining the wishes of the union’s representative bodies.

Despite constant pressure from NEA’s leaders, and a positive recommendation from the union’s PAC Council ( although I suspected some manipulation there as well ), there was still serious doubt whether the proposed Clinton endorsement would meet the 58% threshold needed from the union’s board of directors.

NEA’s executive officers acted quickly, urging Clinton to appear in person before the board on October 3, 2015 to answer any questions and alleviate any concerns. This she did, and the board ultimately voted to endorse her.

But NEA was prepared to call off the vote and whitewash the setback if things had gone awry. A Podesta e-mail dated September 29, 2015 described the situation and NEA’s plan to Clinton:

Here’s the status of things, which you may already have been briefed on. Executive Committee of 7 (3 officers and 4 others)) voted unanimously to endorse. Next step is the PAC Committee, which is weighted by PAC participation and the votes are there to endorse. Final step is a vote of the full 120 member Board where the threshold for endorsement is 58%.

Sanders forces are working furiously to put off an endorsement. We do not have certainty on hitting the 58% threshold despite the intense work of Lilly and John Stocks. You are scheduled to see the full Board on Saturday morning. John’s assessment is that your appearance is critical if they are going to get the endorsement this weekend. There is some risk though that you show up and they remain uncertain of a successful vote so that they put it off for further work by the leadership.

They will not call the vote unless they are certain that they will hit the threshold. Downside is that the Sanders people will spin that notwithstanding the PAC Committee recommendation, the Board delayed action. All here assess that it’s worth the risk and that you should show up and try to get the endorsement now. If the vote is delayed, Lily and John will say this is a multi-layered process and good progress was made by securing the PAC Committee recommendation. I wanted you to have a good sense of the state of play, because they have to let people know that you will be there no later than tomorrow early am. I and the rest of the team think you should confirm participation, but wanted to give you a chance to discuss if you have a different view.

Just wanted to note that NEA’s Executive Committee has 9 members, not 7, and that the board has 170 members, not 120.


So teachers, don’t take for granted that your union leaders at the local, state and national levels are consistently working in your best interest. Take an active role and make your leadership accountable.

Dora Taylor


7 comments on “Podesta emails show NEA behind the scenes on the Clinton endorsement

  1. jeffsalisbury
    October 17, 2016

    Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:
    Podesta emails show NEA behind the scenes on the Clinton endorsement
    by seattleducation2010 To: Date: 2016-03-13 17:06 Subject: From Bill Ivey …Secretary Clinton is not an entertainer, and not a celebrity in the Trump, Kardashian mold; what can she do to offset this? I’m certain the poll-directed insiders are sure things will default to policy as soon as the conventions are over, but I […]

    Read more of this post

    seattleducation2010 | October 12, 2016 at 1:41 PM | Tags: Hillary Clinton, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, National Education Association (NEA), Podesta emails, Testing | Categories: National Education Association (NEA) | URL:

  2. rbeckley58
    October 13, 2016

    Dora, thanks for staying on top of this. I wondered how they fanagled the Hillary vote given every single delegate I know was a Bernie supporter.

    This raw manipulation is no surprise but still deeply disappointing. Most at that level will do anything to consolidate control. Let’s hope it’s their version of devotion to education and not just a grab for glory. But our eyes are wide open.

  3. Ken Derstine
    October 12, 2016

    The same is true of Randi Weingarten and Clinton campaign manager Podesta. There are dozens of emails between them months before the AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton. It show their very close collaboration with the union using their members dues money to promote Clinton before the endorsement was even announced.

    For example:
    Email to Nikki Budzinski, Labor Outreach for Hillary for America from Randi.

    On Saturday, January 30, 2016, Randi Weingarten, Office of the President <> wrote:

    “He is psst-but I don’t believe it moves him to action. Congrats on the NYT And we will go after NNU and there high and mighty sanctimonious conduct… R”

    Is this is cause of the hostility to the National Nurses Union?
    Are Mergers the Answer for Fractious Nurses Unions?

    You can search Podesta and Weingarten emails here.

    • seattleducation2010
      October 12, 2016

      Yes, union leadership has been bought.

      Thanks for the links.

      • edthinktank
        October 12, 2016

        Yes Leadership has been bought … but … apparently a majority of voting members have no problem with the purchase.

      • seattleducation2010
        October 12, 2016

        I think a lot of teachers think by paying their dues and voting occasionally, they are being taken care of by leadership but I’ve watched union leaders sell their people down the river, all for a crust of bread at the table.

        One interesting fact, Weingarten was on the Broad Foundation board for several years. Imagine that.

  4. Danaher M Dempsey Jr
    October 12, 2016

    Making Leadership accountable.. great idea but when if ever. The WEA made a number of really important decisions without ever consulting membership. One of the most important was the decision to push “Common Core State Standards”. The NEA and WEA look more like representatives of the big money players than being engaged in any meaningful representation of members.

    Consider the requirement that 95% of students must take state testing yet parents have the option to opt students out of testing. NEA and WEA are accomplices in pushing nonsense rather than opposing it.

    Many teachers are not adequately represented by either WEA or NEA.

    Look at Obama/Duncan actions.

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