Same Money, Same PAC

The RDP PAC, now called the Citizens for Quality School Leadership, was formed in 2016 and played a prominent role in 3 of the last 4 school board elections (see the table below). Most of the PAC’s money came from the teachers union, contractors who did business with the school corporation, and a community member who was appointed to a school board position on the library board. I refer to current school board members Witt, Marley, Austin, and Schott as PAC members (PAC-supported school board members) because they were all supported by the PAC. Current school board members Yin, Mumford, and Wang have had no involvement with the PAC and so I refer to them as non-PAC members (not-PAC-supported school board members).

Campaign YearName of PACPAC LeadershipSpendingFunding SourcePAC CandidatesNon-PAC Candidates
2016



RDP PAC



Chair: Brian Bittner 

Treasurer: Brad Marley
$4,125



IPACE – State Teachers Union Political Arm (Randy Studt)
Brad Marley, Tom Schott, Doug Masson, Brian BittnerMelissa Prochnau



2020



































RDP PAC 



































Chair: Dianne Sautter (originally Mayor John Dennis)

Treasurer: Monica Shaeffer (recruited by Rachel Witt)

























$24,159



































IPACE – State Teachers Union Political Arm (Randy Studt)

School Board Members (Karen Springer & Alan Karpick)

SB Lawyer (Reiling)

SB Interim CFO (Sloat)

SB Consultant (Troyer)

SB Hired Legal Counsel (Reiling, Teder, & Schrier)

SB Hired Architect (KJG)

SB Appointee (Atlschaeffl)

Gregg Theobald, R Sutton, Mark Castell, Paul Brown, and Kelley & Pat Carr
Brad Marley, Tom Schott, Doug Masson, Amy Austin































Yue Yin, Dacia Mumford, David Purpura, Melissa Prochnau, Angie Janes, Sara Poer, William Watson, Brady Kalb, Jeff Kayser, Brian Ruh




























2022




Citizens for Quality School Leadership 

Chair: James Garland

Treasurer: Joseph Krause 
$4,000




$12,471.12 Transfer from RDP PAC


Rachel Witt, Karen Springer, George Lyle

Dacia Mumford, Laurence Wang, Angie Janes


The RDP PAC was formed in 2016 by school board members Brad Marley, Tom Schott, Brian Bittner, and Doug Masson along with a political consultant, Steve Klink. Bittner was the PAC chair, Marley was the PAC treasurer, and they were also both candidates. This is not one of those “super PACs” that are not allowed to coordinate with candidates. This PAC coordinates with the candidates being supported. Their goal was to keep Melissa Prochnau from winning a seat on the school board. Prochnau was the only non-incumbent candidate in that election and was the first non-incumbent to run for a WL school board seat since 2004. The PAC used a $5,000 donation from the state teachers union political arm, I-PACE (WL Jr/SrHS teacher Randy Studt is one of their leaders), to purchase the PAC candidates’ yard signs, buy political advertising in the Journal & Courier, and send direct mail political adverts. The PAC was unsuccessful in keeping Prochnau from being elected in 2016, though the vote was very close. There was little community awareness of the PAC after the 2016 election.

In 2020, there was widespread dissatisfaction with several recent school board decisions and 15 candidates ran for 4 school board seats. The RDP PAC reorganized to support the campaigns of Marley, Schott, Masson, and Amy Austin. West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis agreed to serve as chair of the PAC and Rachel Witt recruited Monica Shaeffer to serve as secretary (see Witt’s statement confirming this below). One of the first things the PAC did was send out an “apocalyptic” letter which inflamed the community and was widely denounced, including by Mayor John Dennis who resigned as chair. Notably, Rachel Witt defended the PAC and stood by the claims made in the letter. No one has come forward to accept responsibility for writing the letter, but I don’t think it was any of the PAC candidates. A former school board member, Dianne Sautter, became the PAC chair. The PAC raised $40,000 from companies that worked on the recent school construction projects, several other school contractors, the state teachers union, board members Karen Springer and Alan Karpick, as well as a few other individuals. The PAC spent $24,000 during the 2020 election. Much of that massive amount of spending went to the Midwest Communications Group and First Tuesday Communications (political consultant Steve Klink’s company) and paid for direct mail political adverts, yard signs, robo calls, and mass texts. In the end, the PAC was successful in getting 3 of the 4 PAC candidates (Marley, Schott, and Austin) elected with Yue Yin essentially replacing Prochnau as the lone non-PAC member of the school board.

There was a high level of community frustration with the RDP PAC after the 2020 election. So, in September 2022, the leaders of the RDP PAC transferred all its remaining assets to a new PAC called Citizens for Quality School Leadership (CQSL). This was just a renaming; the RDP PAC and the CQSL PAC list the same contact phone number and most importantly: it’s the same money. The chair and secretary of the PAC, James Garland and Joseph Krause, are both former teachers at WL Jr/SrHS. The PAC reported having spent $7,500 in the first part of the 2022 school board election supporting Witt, Springer, and Lyle. They again paid the Midwest Communications Group and an online advertising firm called El Toro. After the election, they reported also paying $2,500 to Steve Klink’s First Tuesday Communications company and received a refund from the Midwest Communications Group. The PAC has $8,471 remaining in their account available to use in the 2024 election if they choose to do so. Instead, I hope they will choose to donate this money to a good cause and keep PAC influence out of our community school board elections.

It’s clear that current school board members Witt, Marley, Austin, and Schott were supported by the PAC. It’s also clear that Witt and Marley were involved in leading the PAC. There was obvious coordination between the candidates and the PAC in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Marley, Austin, and Schott’s yard signs were paid for by the PAC.

Some of the people associated with the PAC are now trying to distance themselves from it. Their statements like “I don’t like the PAC,” “I am not the leader of the PAC,” and “I did not fill out the paperwork to create the PAC” do not contradict any of the facts given above. The evidence, which you can examine for yourself, confirms my account.

You can follow the history of RDP PAC and Citizens for Quality School Leadership PAC through their financial filings (see links below). Some people have claimed that the CQSL PAC is entirely different from the RDP PAC, but the financial filings make it clear that it’s the same money. Also see the smartphone screenshot of the beginning of a Facebook post from the 2020 election where Witt states that she recruited Monica Shaeffer to serve as the PAC’s treasurer:

2021 RDP PAC Revised End-of-year filing (shows $3,567 spending in 2021)

2022 Citizens for Quality School Leadership PAC Creation

2022 RDP PAC Disbands committee (transfer of funds to CQSL PAC)

2022 Citizens for Quality School Leadership PAC Mid-election filing 

2022 Citizens for Quality School Leadership PAC End-of-year filing