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1987-88 Federal Election Contributions: The N.E.A. Ranks 4th; the A.F.T., 28th

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By Julie A. Miller

Washington--The National Education Association's political-action committee gave $2.1 million to candidates for federal office during the 1987-88 election cycle, retaining its status as one of the nation's most powerful pacs, according to the Federal Election Commission's final report on the campaign.

Nea-pac's contributions were exceeded only by those affiliated with realtors, the American Medical Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The American Federation of Teachers ranked 28th among pacs, with total contributions of $865,063.

The two unions rank significantly lower--10th and 42nd, respectively--when pacs are categorized according to gross receipts, and fall into similar positions when they are ranked by total expenditures.

That is because the teachers' unions give most of their money directly to candidates. Pacs that are not affiliated with other groups spend more money on operating expenses, and some other top pacs spend a substantial amount on their own political activities, such as advertising and direct-mail campaigns.

The n.e.a. raised a total of $3.8 million and spent $3.6 million in the last election cycle. The a.f.t., which had cash on hand at the start of 1987, raised $1.5 million and spent $1.6 million.

Democrats Favored

Both teachers' unions gave an overwhelming proportion of their contributions to Democratic candidates.

The n.e.a. gave $120,276 to 28 Republicans, while the a.f.t. donated $20,950 to four g.o.p. candidates, all of whom received relatively large4contributions from the n.e.a. as well: Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania; former Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut, who lost a close race; James Jeffords of Vermont, who moved from the House to the Senate; and Representative Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island.

Aid to Groups

In addition to their direct contributions to candidates, the n.e.a. gave about $450,000 and the a.f.t. about $120,000 to Democratic Party organizations and private groups that support Democratic candidates, according to f.e.c. records.

The nea and aft also donated about $600,000 and $140,000, respectively, to state Democratic organizations, including a $380,000 contribution by the n.e.a. to the West Virginia Democratic Party. In contrast, the n.e.a. gave only $15,000 to Republican groups, and the a.f.t. gave them nothing.

Nea-pac gave more than $100,000 to a variety of independent pacs, almost all of which support liberal causes. Several, for example, support women candidates. Others include the Vietnam Veterans pac, the Hollywood Women's pac, and the U.S. Committee Against Nuclear War.

The union also contributed to Class-pac, which is affiliated with an organization of nonprofessional school employees.

The n.e.a. does this in part to funnel more money indirectly to candidates to whom the union has already given the maximum amount of $5,000 per election, said Sally Potter, counsel to the nea's government-relations office. In addition, she said, contributing to other pacs helps "raise the visibility" of political viewpoints the union endorses.

The a.f.t., meanwhile, made contributions to Class-pac and to the pac run by the a.f.l.-c.i.o., which received $275,000.

Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, 1987-88

1.Realtors Political Action Committee$3,045,769

2.Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education

Committee (Teamsters union)2,865,224

3.American Medical Association Political Action Committee2,315,646

4.National Education Association Political Action


5.National Association of Retired Federal Employees Political

Action Committee1,974,850

6.United Auto Workers Voluntary Community Action Program1,953,099

7.Association of Trial Lawyers of America Political Action


8.Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education1,732,482

9.American Federation of State, County, and Municipal

Employees--PEOPLE, Qualified1,658,386

10.Machinists Non-Partisan Political League1,492,780

8.American Federation of Teachers Committee on Political


SOURCE: Federal Election Commission

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