A "super PAC" formed by the powerful city teachers' union paid more than $370,000 to an apparently fictitious political consulting firm, which was actually the well-known New York firm the Advance Group, records and interviews show.
The listing of the phony firm, "Strategic Consultants, Inc.," in campaign filings, obscured that Advance Group was being paid both to promote candidates for the United Federation of Teachers' independent political action committee, and working as the main campaign consultant for several of those same candidates. Super PACs have no spending limits but must not coordinate with individual campaigns.
The UFT's payments raise new questions about potentially improper coordination the between outside spending efforts run by the Advance Group, and the firm's own clients.
In August and September, the UFT's so-called super PAC, United for the Future, paid more than $370,000 to "Strategic Consultants, Inc.," which produced mailers touting candidates in races across the five boroughs. But there is no corporate record in New York for a firm of that name, nor has such a firm ever been paid before in a New York election. A Google search did not yield any results for such a company.
In state campaign finance records, however, there is a Manhattan address listed for Strategic Consultants: 39 Broadway, which is also the address of the Advance Group. And in one campaign filing, a suite number is listed: 1740, the suite number of the Advance Group.
A knowledgeable labor source told The Insider that the Advance Group was involved in the UFT's independent expenditure efforts. A spokeswoman for the Advance Group did not return repeated requests for comment.
In a statement, a UFT spokesman declined to address why the union is listed as making payments to Strategic Consultants, rather than the Advance Group. "The UFT followed [Campaign Finance Board] guidelines in setting up firewalls between the union and the independent expenditure; we also received written assurances from our vendors that they set up their own internal firewalls that complied with CFB regulations," the spokesman said.
See, this is the difference between the geniuses at the UFT and those in real estate and corporate New York who also illegally coordinate with and channel funds to candidates through super PAC's.
The geniuses at the UFT get caught.
Now I know the corporate criminals at Crain's want to defang the unions and NYCLASS and the "New York City Is Not For Sale" groups with these stories.
After all, these outside groups - particularly the "New York City Is Not For Sale" group - were very successful at promoting candidates and in the case of Christine Quinn, taking one candidate down.
So I know Crain's is just trying to expose this groups and harm them for future races.
But for God sakes, can't the UFT get a little more creative when they're trying to circumvent the freaking rules?
You know, the way the real estate industry and corporate criminals do.