JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Federal agents raided the office of Duval Teachers United on Wednesday, hauling off dozens of dozens of boxes and bags as part of an ongoing investigation.
“An investigative team from FBI Jacksonville executed a court-authorized search warrant today in furtherance of a federal investigation,” regional FBI spokeswoman Amanda Videll told the Florida Times Union on Wednesday. “Because the investigation is ongoing, details about the search are not being released at this time.”
“We are fully cooperating with authorities and anticipate a full and thorough assessment of the facts,” Duval Teachers United told News4Jax in a statement. “To respect the integrity of the process we will not discuss any further details.”
The outlet cited unnamed sources that claimed the investigation focuses on how the union that represents public school teachers and employees in Duval County has been handling its money – adding that the raid involves the potential misappropriation of funds.
Photos taken by the Times Union show labels on some of the boxes, including one that reads: “DTU Credit Card statements.”
Duval County Schools spokesman Tracy Pierce told the paper: “None of us have any information on what's happening there,” adding that the union is “an independent, private organization.”
When asked about the raid at a press conference on Thursday morning in Jacksonville, Governor Ron DeSantis said he also does not have extra information about the investigation.
“I have no insight about that, as you guys know those are federal agencies, they're not something the state has control over or gets advance warning about the stuff they do,” the governor told reporters. “I saw the report but I don't know anything beyond that.”
TEACHERS’ UNION SPENDING
Duval Teachers United is affiliated with the state’s largest teachers’ union – Florida Education Association (FEA) – and the nation’s largest teachers’ union – the National Education Association (NEA).
Conservatives and other critics have long bemoaned the influence of teachers’ unions on public education – money management being their chief complaint.
In 2022, data analysis from the Americans for Fair Treatment found the NEA spent roughly $49 million on political activities and lobbying – the majority of which went to Democrat candidates or Left-wing groups – compared to $3.5 million on representational activity for its members.
“The interest of the teachers’ unions can be opposite than those of a teacher,” economist Thomas Sowell said on the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge podcast in 2020.
“For example, if there's a large increase of money into the school system … you could use that money to raise teacher salaries. That would be good for the teachers, [but] it would be bad for the teachers’ union.
“The teachers’ unions, again, get more dues, if instead of raising the teacher salaries, you create more jobs, more teachers, aides, more counselors, more nurses, more this more that, more bureaucrats in the system,” Sowell continued. “Because all those people will be paying union dues. Whereas you simply have higher-paid teachers, you don't get any increase in the union dues.”