Teachers’ union dumps its ‘common ground’ lobbyist

Oklahoma’s largest teacher’s union, the Oklahoma Education Association, recently forced out lobbyist Daniela Newville because her lobbying style was inconsistent with union’s aggressive, liberal politics, says a top state education department official.

“They forced her out because she had developed good relationships with both sides of the aisle,” said Joel Robison, chief of staff for Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, and former top lobbyist for the OEA.

Referring to Newville, Robison said, “What irritates me is when you’re conducting yourself professionally, and you’re not treated professionally. They wouldn’t even let her go over to the State Legislature during the (2011-2012) session.”

He said the union had become increasingly strident with its one-party philosophy and viewed its own lobbyists with suspicion when they tried to find common ground with legislators. He said those are among the reasons he quit the OEA’s top lobbyist job in 2011 to become Barresi’s chief of staff.

He had hired Newville to take his place lobbying for OEA’s Western District in 2006 when he was promoted to the union’s top lobbying post that year.

The OEA is the state affiliate of the highly liberal National Education Association.

OEA leaders have a reputation for taking polarizing actions to convince policymakers to bow to their demands; they have often succeeded because of the organization’s perceived power and size.

Calls to OEA officials went unanswered. Messages left on an answering machine and emails seeking comment were not returned.

Contact Stacy Martin at stacy@oklahomawatchdog.org and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.