2021 Election, Adams County, Arapahoe County, Denver, Education, Elections, Featured, Fort Collins, Original Report, Politics, Sherrie Peif, Thompson

Bizarre claims in multiple school board races funded by teachers unions; over $300K kicked in

DENVER — A group that originally reported more than $200,000 in expenditures supporting 20 school board candidates, while making bizarre claims about their opponents, has finally revealed its source of funding with its last filing to the Secretary of State’s office.

A combined five teachers’ unions and union affiliated groups have kicked in more than $300,000 to “Students Deserve Better” to support their choices while opposing the more conservative candidates: The Aurora Council for Teachers and Students ($7,000), the Aurora Education Association ($20,000), the Colorado Fund for Children and Public Education ($257,000), the Denver Classroom Teachers Association ($75,000), and the Poudre Education Association ($25,000).

The Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) recently began campaign mailings to voters in six school districts: Aurora, Cherry Creek, Denver, Jefferson County (Jeffco), Poudre (Fort Collins) and Thompson (Loveland).

Those mailers listed some bizarre accusations against the opposing candidates, including that electing them would “needlessly” expose both students and staff to “deadly harm,” while listing identical platforms for all 20 union-backed candidates, despite the districts being separated by hundreds of square miles, demographics and needs.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the group registered as an IEC with the state on Sept. 28, just one day before the end of the most recent filing period, which was due on Oct. 5. On that report, its filing agent, former State Sen. John Morse — who was recalled in 2013 for his efforts in restricting gun rights — did not file any contributions or expenditures. However, just one day later, he reported the IEC spent just shy of $14,000 on mailers supporting candidates Danielle Jayne, Blaine Nickerson and Mandy Thomas in the Adams 27J School District.

Two days later Morse filed another expenditure report for more than $146,000 supporting teachers’-union backed candidates in Cherry Creek, Jeffco, Aurora, Poudre, Thompson, and Denver.

And again, three days later, Morse reported another $23,500 in additional support for 27J while doubling down on its efforts in Aurora.

Contributors to the effort launched the campaign in a year that has seen more candidates for school board than anyone can remember.

Many of those are slates of hopefuls running together and looking to hold sway over district policy decisions, despite school board races being classified as non-partisan, both major political parties have a foothold and interest in the races.

The renewed interest in school board seats comes as parents are pushing back on issues from mask mandates to the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in teaching methods and curriculum choices.

School districts across the state have a total 530 candidates running for open board seats, more than anytime in at least the last 20 years, and double the number of candidates from the 2019 election.

See Complete Colorado’s previous reporting on the mailers here.


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