KUSA— Teacher unions were revealed to be a major funding source for the recall effort against three conservative board members in Jefferson County in campaign finance data filed due to a judge's order.
The pro-recall group Jeffco United (not to be confused for its sister groups "Jeffco United for Action" and "Jeffco United Forward") reported it received $283,500 from unions, accounting for 99.9 percent of the group's funding.
The revelation, while not terribly surprising to political observers, does contrast with a systematic rejection of a narrative that unions were pushing for the recall.
After a 9NEWS segment discussing the role of unions in the political battle, 9NEWS received dozens of similar emails from recall supporters denying influence from unions.
"I'd like to reiterate for what seems like the billionth time from your viewers that this recall was NOT union led," wrote one emailer. Another wrote, "at no point in this recall has it been driven by the union."
"Please stop saying the teacher's union is behind this recall effort in Jefferson County," pleaded another.
But the reports from Jeffco United show that union money for the effort began pouring in as early as May 18, months before the recall petition would be filed.
All told, the NEA gave $150,000 to Jeffco United. The Colorado Education Association (CEA) have $113,500, and the Jefferson County Education Association gave $20,000. The three groups are affiliated with eachother.
Jeffco United was also the largest contributor to Jeffco United for Action, (JU4A) the group that actually filed the recall petition.
A spokesperson for JU4A told 9NEWS prior to the election that it was not fair to call their effort union-backed.
But JU4A received $90,000 from the union-funded group. In addition, Jeffco United spent money on its own to pay for campaign consultants and political activity such as canvassing.
There remains an unquantifiable amount of untraceable money spent by both sides in this recall.
The same judge who ordered Jeffco United to disclose also ruled that another pro-recall group, "Support Jeffco Kids," did not need to disclose its donors because the group was created almost two years before the election and "was actively involved in many educational activities and concerns in Jefferson County, besides the recall election."
By contrast, Judge Robert Spencer ruled that there was no evidence that Jeffco United engaged in other activity besides work on the recall—meaning that the recall was a "major purpose for the group."
In a statement released to the news media on Christmas Eve, Jeffco United disagreed with that finding, but also stated it would not appeal the ruling.
Groups that campaigned against the recall also have secret donors.
"Kids Are First Jeffco" ran TV ads against the recall, reporting its sole source of funding as a project housed at the libertarian/conservative Independence Institute in Denver, a group which does not disclose its donors.
Likewise, national conservative group Americans for Prosperity campaigned against the recall. It does not disclose its donors.
(© 2015 KUSA)