WEA’s attack ads expose its own weakness

In its latest attempt to resuscitate its tarnished image, the Washington Education Association has adopted tactics that should be familiar to any parent of a small child. If you can’t win the game fairly, the teachers’ union seems to be saying, stamp your feet and accuse your opponent of cheating.

The WEA has been at war for several years now with the Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a publicly funded conservative watchdog group. On several occasions, EFF has taken the union to court over its habit of funding political activities — almost exclusively to the benefit of Democratic candidates — using its members’ dues without the consent of those members.

Even with the determined resistance of Washington’s Democratic governor and attorney general, both of whom have been on the receiving end of the WEA’s generosity, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation has racked up an impressive string of legal legal victories resulting in more than $1 million in fines levied against the union and $530,000 in refunds to Washington teachers.

Earlier this month, WEA launched a counter attack against EFF in the form of an advertising campaign designed to “expose” the organization and its executive director, Bob Williams.

According to the ads, EFF is a front group for extremist out-of-state special interests whose true goal is the destruction of public education. Union officials allege the organization receives the majority of its funding from donors outside the state, as if that were somehow significant.

As a nonprofit organization, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation is under no obligation to disclose its funding sources. But the organization asserts it receives financial support from nearly 3,000 individuals statewide and several dozen private foundations around the country.

None of which is even remotely relevant, of course. The issue here isn’t where EFF gets its funding or who writes the checks. The question is whether the organization is correct when it accuses the Washington Education Association of skirting the law.

And the answer on an embarrassing number of occasions for the union is yes.

The mean-spirited attacks from WEA are no surprise. The group seeks to protect its stranglehold over the state’s teachers and their paychecks and, having seen its illegal tactics exposed in court, has resorted to a strategy of diverting attention from its own misdeeds by attempting to smear its principle accuser.

Here’s hoping the public sees the ads for what they are — and the WEA for what it is. As for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, if it takes an out-of-stater to point out what Washingtonians should already know — namely, that an organization whose stated purpose is to enhance the lives of its members in general and the quality of the state’s education establishment in general is, in fact, lying and breaking the law — we think the shame is ours, not EFF’s.

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