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 West Lafayette library board.

In my meeting summaries, I sometimes refer to current school board members Austin, Marley, Schott, and Witt as PAC members (PAC-supported school board members) because they were all supported by the PAC. Current school board members Mumford, Wang, and Yin 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


Chair: Brian Bittner 

Treasurer: Brad Marley

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



Chair: Dianne Sautter (originally Mayor John Dennis)

Treasurer: Monica Shaeffer (recruited by Rachel Witt)


IPACE – State Teachers Union Political Arm (Randy Studt)

School Construction Architect (KJG)

SB Appointee (Atlschaeffl)

SB Members (Springer & Karpick)

SB Lawyer (Reiling)

SB Interim CFO (Sloat)

SB Consultant (Troyer)

Others: 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


Citizens for Quality School Leadership 

Chair: James Garland

Treasurer: Joseph Krause 

$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 it supports. 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/Sr HS teacher Randy Studt is a top state union leader), 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 current school board president Rachel Witt recruited Monica Shaeffer to serve as PAC secretary. 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 PAC 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. I don’t think it was any of the PAC candidates, but none of them has ever said who wrote it. A former school board member, Dianne Sautter, replaced Mayor Dennis as 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, and a few other individuals including board members. The PAC spent $24,000 during the 2020 election. For comparison, a typical campaign for a school board candidate in our community spends around $1,000, primarily to buy yard signs. Much of the PAC’s 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, robo calls, and mass texts. In that election, the PAC was successful in getting 3 of the 4 PAC candidates (Marley, Schott, and Austin) elected (Masson lost for a 2nd time) 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 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. This time, the PAC was less successful, getting only 1 of the 3 PAC candidates (Witt) elected. After the election, they reported paying an additional $2,500 to Steve Klink’s First Tuesday Communications company and reported receiving a refund from the Midwest Communications Group. The PAC has $8,471 remaining in their account available to use in the 2024 election. 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. Austin, Marley, Schott, and Masson’s yard signs were all paid for by the PAC. Some of these 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.

You can follow the history of PAC through its 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 below is a 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 and notes that she supports the PAC.

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