Introducing the Golden Handcuff Award

By Bill Zettler

Since teachers have the Golden Apple Award I thought it only appropriate to have a similar award for politicians called the “Golden Handcuff Award.”  Whereas the Golden Apple recognizes the highest achievement in the classroom, the Golden Handcuff would recognize those politicians with the highest achievement in garnering political contributions from the teacher unions. To get the Golden Handcuff you must have received at least $50,000 in teacher union contributions.

I call it the Golden Handcuff because once you have received money from the unions you are no longer able to lift anything heavier than a five-figure contribution check. The heavy lifting involved in curbing six-figure teacher salaries, $300,000 administrators salaries, multi-million dollar pensions, endless property tax increases, etc. cannot be done when you are encumbered with the Golden Handcuffs.  No sir, all you can do after your Golden handcuffs are snapped closed is sign on to (or sponsor) bills providing more money and benefits to the teachers.

Although the state does have a website to track political contributions it is not easy because the contributors can use many different names thereby making tracking more difficult. Of course the various teacher union organizations do their best to confuse the public.   For example the largest contributor ($11 million plus) the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education (IPACE) can be found using the following names: IPACE, I.P.A.C.E., 1 PACE, !PACE, IPACE PAC, IPACE-Il, IPACE-PAC, IPACE-ILLINOIS, IPACE/ILLINOIS, LPACE, Ipage, IPACE-EDUC. In addition the various teacher organizations launder their contributions by sending money back and forth to each other in a manner befitting a Columbian drug cartel.

Therefore the $23 million total I have managed to come up with is probably low even though that is frightening enough. For example if you search for contributions from organizations containing the word “teacher” in it you get $16 million, for the letters “ift” (Illinois Federation of Teachers) $8 million, the letters “aft” (America Federation of Teachers) $3 million plus the IPACE $11 million gives you $38 million including the money laundering amounts back and forth.   The largest 3rd party contribution to Blagojevich was $300,000 from IPACE along with $250,000 and $225,000 from other teacher union funds. And all of the money does not come from Illinois: over $1.7 million came from the American Federation of Teachers headquarters in Washington DC. Over $500,000 from the teacher unions has been donated just since January 2006.

You will notice that although Democrats dominate the following list there are enough Republicans to make certain that the union’s demands are met no matter which party is in power. The biggest donations in 2006 have gone to Emil Jones ($27,500), the Madigans ($40,000), Dan Hynes ($20,000) and interesting enough – two Republicans – Sydney Mathias of Buffalo Grove and Mark Beaubien of Wauconda, $15,000 each.

If this kind of vote buying isn’t “special interest” what is?

Teacher Union Political Contributions Since Electronic Records Were Begun in the mid 1990s

GOLDEN HANDCUFF AWARDS – Politicians who have received more than $50,000 from Teacher Unions


1,320,708 D Blagojevich, Rod
1,000,278 D Madigans, Michael and Lisa
446,800 D Jones, Emil
290,800 R Ryan, George
290,700 D Demuzio, Deanna
260,131 D Hynes, Dan
235,995 D Franks, Jack
210,000 R Daniels, Lee
202,302 D Link, Terry
159,873 D Halvorson, Debbie
155,450 D White, Jesse
153,146 D Garrett, Susan
151,748 D Murphy, Harold
133,311 R Bomke, Larry
124,500 R Beaubien, Mark
90,360 R Jones, Wendell
70,950 R Dilliard, Kirk
70,137 D Ryg, Kathy
62,750 D Lang, Lou
58,250 R Mathias, Sydney
Contribution Teacher Union Political Organization
11,100,000 IPACE – Il Political Action Comm. For Education
6,200,000 Chicago Teachers Union
2,839,236 Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT)
1,205,534 Ill Fed of Teachers COPE
999,664 Cook County College Teachers Union
880,200 Lake County Fed of Teachers
294,776 Ill Fed Teachers COPE 500
267,842 SW Suburban Fed of Teachers
70,788 West Suburban Fed of Teachers
51,886 McHenry County Fed of Teachers
$23,909,926 TOTAL Contributions Teacher Unions