A political mailer hailing Bill Thompson’s education credentials is being sent out by a new political action committee with some vaguely familiar initials.
The committee, United For The Future, hasn’t yet registered with the city’s campaign finance board and won’t have to do so until next month’s deadline. A spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers declined to comment, but as Politicker points out (among other things), the committee was filed with the state’s Board of Elections last month by Paul Egan, the UFT’s political director.
The UFT has endorsed Thompson and promised to back him with millions of dollars to support his candidacy, including advertising buys.
The glossy, four-page spread, which opens up to a large picture of the former comptroller and four black and white images of city life, is a sign of the surge of ads and direct communications that is expected to flood voters’ televisions, radios, mailboxes and Facebook feeds in the next 43 days before the Democratic and Republican primaries. Much of the spending will come from outside interest groups working independently of candidates.
The stakes in the election are high for the teachers union. It’s asking the next mayor to negotiate up to $3 billion in back pay raises to account for years without a contract, something that the current mayor has flatly refused to do. More generally, it is seeking a more collaborative partner in City Hall than the Bloomberg administration, which has fought with the union on most major education policies during its third term.
The Thompson mailer, which GothamSchools obtained, highlights his upbringing in Bedford-Stuyvesant and notes prominently that he was “raised by a teacher.” It mentions his high school alma mater (Midwood High School) and his time as Board of Education President, where he “worked with parents, teachers and city officials to create better schools and expand after-school programs.”
It’s unclear how much United for the Future spent on the mailer or who received it. More details of the communications campaign will be revealed Aug. 9, when independent expenditures are first required to be disclosed under new rules adopted by the New York City Campaign Finance Board last year.
The disclosure will allow voters to see, for the first time, who is contributing to political action committees and details of how the money is spent. Other education interest groups that could spend in the election are Campbell Brown’s Parents’ Transparency Project, which skirted filing rules so far despite mounting a $100,000 television ad campaign, StudentsFirst NY and Democrats for Education Reform. Other unions with members who work in schools, including school aides, parent coordinators, paraprofessionals and cleaners, also figure to spend on the election.