In the run up to the August 2018 primary, State campaign records show a Broward Teachers Union (BTU) political committee paid $125,000 to a shadowy political group tied to the SEIU and a major voter registration fraud case in Indiana. The Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco and her leadership team worked hard to convince voters to pass a property tax increase which would benefit the Broward School District. BTU worked just as hard to maintain the status quo on the Broward School Board by backing Board Members Donna Korn and Laurie Rich Levinson.
Since 2013, the Broward Teachers Union Committee On Political Education has been funded by union dues paid by local teachers. The State of Florida shows 48 of the 53 contributions made to the committee were from membership dues. By 2018, someone realized these small amounts would not be enough to get the tax increase passed. This year, the BTU committee received five large contributions.
Less than two weeks before the August primary, the Broward Teachers Union Committee On Political Education received $60,000 from the FEA (Florida Education Association), $10,000 from NFOPAPE (National Federation Of Public And Private Employees) and $75,000 from AFT (American Federation Of Teachers). The majority of the contributions were used to pay a shadowy political group based in Washington, D.C.
Campaign records show the BTU committee made three payments in August to The Operations Group. On August 10, 2018, The Operations Group was paid $30,000 for a “field program.” Ten days later, BTU gave them a $60,000 “contribution for issue.” Then on August 27th, The Operations Group received a $35,809 payment for “mail drops.”
After putting $250,000 of its own money into the PAC in October, the BTU committee gave another $30,000 to The Operations Group. The BTU committee said the money was an “expenditure to support issue.”
Even though records show the company is based in Washington, D.C., The Operations Group was founded in July 2017 by Bernard “Blair” Talmadge of Philadelphia. Talmadge is the brother of former Philadelphia City Commissioner Alexander Talmadge. According to records and published reports, Talmadge operates two other groups: Block By Block and The Ardleigh Group. Nevada corporate records show Talmadge is the manager of The Ardleigh Group.
In April 2017, a “scathing audit” was conducted into the Washington DC City Council campaign of Brandon Todd. According to the Washington City Paper, investigators looked into $134,000 of expenses Todd failed to report. Investigators from the Office Of Campaign Finance focused on, “trio of expenditures…to a firm called Block By Block at an address in West Trenton, New Jersey.” Just months before a 2015 special election, Brandon Todd’s campaign “paid more than $100,000 to the company, which has a track record of get-out-the-vote services in New Jersey and a presence in D.C. that seems to have been designed to be difficult to pin down.”
According to City Paper, “Sources say Block By Block and Ardleigh are the political ground operations for a consultant named Matt Schneider, whose firm, Field Strategies…supported progressive organizations, labor unions, and municipal, state, and national candidates all the way up to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
Schneider said, “Block By Block was founded by a man named Blair Talmadge, a Jersey-based campaign consultant who LL also traced to Philadelphia, and who works on campaigns all around the country. According to Schneider, Block by Block executed the Todd campaign’s voter ID and GOTV efforts designed by Field Strategies, including knocking on doors and making phone calls to D.C. voters.”
In 2016, Raw Story detailed The Ardleigh Group’s role with the SEIU.
During a Richmond, Virginia speech by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, nearly 100 field organizers protested their treatment by the SEIU.
For months, organizers in SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign have been working with the Union of Union Representatives to demand representation. Currently, nearly 100 staff at SEIU are unionized under a contract with UUR that began 30 years ago. UUR launched an investigation of SEIU in 2015 and found it was outsourcing the work of its field organizers in violation of the contract. Earlier this year, many of SEIU’s field organizers formed an organizing committee to gain union representation and in April, 15 organizers submitted UUR membership cards.
The organizers for the SEIU Fight For $15 wanted to be paid $15 an hour. Instead they were paid much less by a third party.
The outsourcing is blatant, the staff organizers claim. Fennell says her job is determined solely by SEIU. “I was hired by a regional director for SEIU. All my communication is with SEIU. I work in an SEIU office.” But her paycheck, like Barajas-Ames’s, comes from the “Ardleigh Group.” One former employee calls it a “faceless, shadowy” corporation that acts as a pass-through to hide employer responsibility. SEIU documents appear to show it using paper outfits to funnel money to the Ardleigh Group, which then pays workers on SEIU projects who say they are being denied their legal union rights.
VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD 2016
In 2016, twelve members of the Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP) were arrested on voter registration fraud charges. Authorities said the group registered felons, minors and dead people to vote in the 2016 Presidential election. According to the Indianapolis Star, “The group’s canvassers also made up or forged information on scores of voter registrations, sometimes paying vagrants with cigarettes or pocket change to fill out the forms….”
Official police documents show the IVRP workers were paid by Field Strategies. Police said workers were “pressured” to obtain 10 applications per shift or risk being fired. Detectives said supervisors instructed workers to reach quota “by any means necessary.” According to police, elections officials said applications submitted by IVRP workers contained duplicate information as well as fake Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
Police say records show Field Strategies maintained a database of voter information used by IVRP. Emails show Field Strategies officials monitored progress of the IVRP.
REDBROWARD reached out to Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco to find out what The Operations Group was doing from them. Fusco promised to forward details. We will update story.
With one day before election, troubling questions surround what The Operations Group is doing with $155,000 of BTU money.
How many new voters have been “registered” by The Operations Group?
How many of these new voters already voted in August?
How many new voters for November?
Can Brenda Snipes’ Office be trusted to catch fraudulent voter registrations?
Does anyone care?