Rep. Nicole Malliotakis Suggests Teachers Unions Bought COVID Guidelines Through Donations To Democrats

Screenshot via House Oversight Committee

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

Republican New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis suggested Wednesday that teachers unions used campaign donations to buy access that allowed them extensive influence in writing COVID-19 guidelines.

“It’s no secret that your union, your local affiliates, spent $20 million on political donations, with nearly all of the funds going to Democrats and liberal groups in the 2020 cycle. as the debate about reopening schools raged,” Malliotakis told American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten during a hearing of the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the COVID Pandemic. “And I think a question that we have is whether you had this type of access because of those contributions. We don’t see the parents being asked their opinions, or the private schools being asked their opinions on school re-openings.”

AFT was the 28th-largest outside spender during the 2020 election cycle, and 24th-largest contributor during the 2022 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets. A prominent Democratic Party surrogate, Weingarten campaigned for Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election and Tim Ryan in the 2022 Ohio Senate election. Both candidates lost.

Weingarten admitted earlier in the hearing that President Joe Biden’s transition team contacted AFT to discuss COVID-19 reopening guidelines ahead of his Jan. 2021 inauguration. (RELATED: Teachers Union Boss Raked In Massive Six-Figure Salary While Fighting To Close Schools)

“[A]fter lobbying for and securing $122 billion in the American Rescue Plan to safely reopen schools after $60 billion had already been allocated through the CARES Act, the AFT continued to push for schools to be closed. Private schools opened a year earlier than the public schools did in New York City,” Malliotakis went on.

Emails made public under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that American Federation of Teachers officials communicated directly with and made recommendations to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials about school reopening guidelines. CDC officials also gave the AFT and National Education Association the guidelines several hours early so they would have “time to digest” them.