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Risa S.

Sugarman
Chief Enforcement Counsel
Division of Election Law Enforcement
NYS Board of Elections
40 North Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12207
518-486-7858
enforcement@elections.ny.gov
October 18, 2016
Edward F. Cox
315 State Street
Albany, NY 12210
Honorable Commissioners and Enforcement Counsel:
I am writing to file a complaint against NYSUT, their affiliated independent expenditure
committee, FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Filer ID A21662), and their political
action committee, VOICE OF TEACHERS FOR EDUCATION/COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL
EDUCATION (VOTE-COPE Filer ID A01111) each located at 800 Troy-Schenectady Road,
Latham, NY 12110, based on their organizational structure, statements made by NYSUT, through
their spokesman Carl Korn, as published by Gannett on October 14, 2016 and financial
disclosure reports filed by FRIENDS OF CHRIS EACHUS (see attached).
On August 24, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law S.8160/A.10742. The enacted legislation
went into effect on September 24, 2016 and makes clear that independent expenditures must be
independent from the candidate benefitting from the expenditure. The operational influence and
control exercised by Andrew Pallotta and the statements made by Carl Korn and the capacity in
which he serves each entity strongly suggest the activities of the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC
SCHOOLS constitute coordination under NYS election law.
According to Section 14-107(d) (vii) of the NYS election law, coordination occurs when, the
independent expenditure committee, or its agent, making the payment or expenditure benefitting
the candidate has participated in strategic discussions with the candidate
The fact that NYSUT and their political action committee (VOTE-COPE) have direct contact
and coordinate efforts with candidates while their affiliated independent expenditure committee
(FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS) is headquartered and operates out of the same
location, on its face, is sufficient cause for investigation.

An independent expenditure committee sharing operational space with individuals/entities that


have direct contact with candidates and their campaigns creates an atmosphere for coordination
to occur. Improper information sharing can be avoided with the adoption of, and adherence to,
proper safeguards. NYSUT, VOTE-COPE and the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
however, do not appear to be employing practices to ensure information sharing does not occur.
NYSUTs Executive Vice President, Andrew Pallotta, also has operational control of NYSUTs
political action committee (VOTE-COPE) in addition to having operational control of NYSUTs
affiliated independent expenditure committee (FUNDS FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS)
(see attached registration documents).
By virtue of Mr. Pallottas influence and control over NYSUT, VOTE-COPE, and the FUND
FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS these entities cannot be viewed separate and apart from each
other. Under common operational influence and control and lacking independence from each
other essentially requires NYSUT and VOTE-COPE to maintain independence from candidates
in order for the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS to be independent and avoid
coordination.
As evidenced by social media and news accounts, NYSUT and VOTE-COPE regularly engage in
coordinated activities with candidates and campaigns, related to fundraising efforts, rally
participation and organization, phone banks, door-to-door outreach, as well as other campaign
functions. Facilitation of these activities requires NYSUT and VOTE-COPE to engage in
strategic discussion regarding a candidates plans and needs. Based on the coordinated activities
conducted by NYSUT and VOTE-COPE, it is clear they are not independent and thus neither is
the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (see attached social media).
NYSUTs spokesman, Carl Korn, as indicated by numerous news reports (see attached), also
serves as the spokesman for NYSUTs political action committee (VOTE-COPE), and their
affiliated independent expenditure committee (FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS).
Under NYS election law, Mr. Korn meets the definition of agent for each entity he serves. The
interchangeable role he plays within each entity requires knowledge and strategic discussion
regarding the entitys plans and operations, some of which are coordinated with, and often driven
by the expressed needs of an endorsed candidate. Regardless of what hat he wears, one cannot
firewall the mind.
This is evidenced by Carl Korns statements published by Gannett. In order for such statements
to be made, the following must be true: 1.) agent(s) of the NYSUT have engaged in strategic
discussions with candidates, or their agents, regarding campaign needs, some of which they
intend to address through the deployment of volunteers, and; 2.) agent(s) of NYSUT have
engaged in strategic discussions with an independent expenditure committee which is making
expenditures for the benefit of the same candidates. Therefore, Carl Korn establishes a nexus of
strategic discussions between an independent expenditure committee and the candidates it makes
expenditures to benefit.
The conduct of NYSUT, VOTE-COPE, and the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
clearly amounts to coordination and runs afoul of Section 14-107 of the NYS election law.

This situation is also clearly analogous to the facts addressed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the 2nd Circuit in Vermont Right to Life v. Sorrell, 758 F.3D 118 (2014). (hereinafter VRTL). In
VRTL, the 2nd Circuit found that the Vermont Right to Life Committee split its political finance
activities into two entities; a traditional PAC and an independent expenditure only committee. As
the traditional PAC was subject to contribution limits, it was free to coordinate and communicate
with candidates and political parties it financially supported. The independent expenditure only
committee, however, was to avoid coordination and communication with supported candidates
and political parties in order to not be subject to contribution limits.
The issue the 2nd Circuit addressed was whether coordinating information was flowing from the
candidates and its agents to the traditional PAC and then to the independent expenditure only
committee due to the organizational structure of the groups. The Court held that in such
situations, some actual organizational separation between the groups must exist to assure that
the expenditures are in fact uncoordinated and that whether an independent expenditure only
committee is, functionally distinct from a non-independent-expenditure-only entity may depend
on factors such as, the overlap of staff and resources, the lack of financial independence, the
coordination of activities, and the flow of information between the entities. The 2nd Circuit
found that the activities of the entities was so enmeshed that the independent expenditure only
committee was not independent but in fact an extension of the traditional PAC making its
expenditures in-kind contributions, subject to contribution limits. The organizational structure and
activities of NYSUT, VOTE-COPE, and the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, are in fact
enmeshed based on the factors laid out by the Court.

The FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS does not appear to be the only NYSUT affiliated
political entity engaging in activity that violates NYS election law. FRIENDS OF CHRIS
EACHUS (Filer ID A21500) 2016 10 DAY POST PRIMARY REPORT contains three
contributions received from VOTE-COPE, all dated 09/08/16, in the amounts of $7,000 (Ck#
20090), $7,000 (Ck# 20091), and $11,000 (Ck#20092). As you know, the contribution limit for a
State Senate candidate from a political action committee is $7,000 for a primary election and
$11,000 for a general election. As such, these contributions constitute an excessive contribution
to FRIENDS OF CHRIS EACHUS from VOTE-COPE.
Given the proximity to the general election, I request that an immediate investigation into the
activities of NYSUT, VOTE-COPE and the FUND FOR GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOLS be
launched, that they are notified to cease expenditures for mass communications until they are in
compliance, require that excessive contributions be refunded, and civil and criminal actions
initiated, as determined appropriate.
Sincerely,

Edward F. Cox
315 State Street
Albany, NY 12210