When Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most recent campaign disclosure filing was made public earlier this month, it showed a $10,000 donation from the state’s teachers union.
It raised a few eyebrows. It was the New York State United Teachers union’s first contribution to Cuomo’s campaign since 2009, and many teachers have expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s new evaluation system and rollout of the Common Core.
Now, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi (pictured) is accusing the union’s second-in-command of unilaterally purchasing a $10,000 table at Cuomo’s birthday fundraiser last month despite only being authorized to buy three seats.
“When the request came for a fundraiser for Governor Cuomo, I directed (NYSUT Executive Vice President) Andy Pallotta’s staff to purchase me a ticket to the event and suggested that Andy and UFT President Michael Mulgrew also attend,” Iannuzzi wrote on a website for his backers. “Upon my arrival, I learned that Andy had unilaterally authorized (NYSUT’s political action committee) to purchase a $10,000 table for 10—highly unusual given the sentiments of our members statewide.”
(I’ve reached out to Pallotta for comment.)
The allegation comes as Iannuzzi seeks another three-year term as the union’s president and faces a challenge from a slate of candidates looking to oust him. (Capital Tonight has a look at the NYSUT rift here.)
He’s being challenged by Karen Magee, the president of the Harrison Association of Teachers in Westchester County. Pallotta is running for executive vice president on Magee’s ticket, known as Revive NYSUT.
On the Ianuzzi-backer website, Iannuzzi accused Pallotta of using the table at Cuomo’s fundraiser to invite Magee and others seeking to oust him.
“As a result, we are now requiring the approval of the members of the (NYSUT political action) committee BEFORE any contributions over $5,000 are made to any statewide party committee or statewide candidate,” Iannuzzi wrote.
Magee and Pallotta’s bid received a big boost this week when it received the backing of Michael Mulgrew, the head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. On the Revive NYSUT website, Mulgrew said the New York City union—which represents a large portion of NYSUT’s statewide membership—“agree with their call for change.”