The Alabama Education Association is giving fewer donations to Republican candidates this year and is using political action committees to disguise what it does give some Republicans because they don't want to be publicly associated with the teachers' group.
Paul Hubbert, longtime head of the teachers' union, said the state Republican Party and its major candidates have made AEA a political target and tried to taint its contributions.
Four years ago, AEA was bipartisan in its approach, reporting about $670,000 in direct contributions to Republican candidates. This year, the group reports $85,000 in contributions to eight GOP candidates.
AEA is one of the state's most influential political groups. Campaign finance reports this year indicate it will again top the five million dollar mark -- that's about the same amount it doled out in the 2002 election.
This year, the GOP candidates receiving AEA contributions include incumbent Representatives Elwyn Thomas of Oneonta, Ron Johnson of Sylacauga, Todd Greeson of Ider, Jeremy Oden of Vinemont and State Board of Education member David Byers of south Jefferson County.
Disguising the original source of campaign money is legal in Alabama.