BY BUDDY NEVINS
A Broward Teachers Union official, who pleaded guilty to corruption earlier this year, is running for president of the group, according to another candidate in the race.
The last two BTU presidents were tossed from office under a cloud of criminal charges.
This time if Bernie Schultz wins the union presidency, she would already have had criminal charges against her before taking office.
Schultz and the BTU could not be reached for comment.
One of Four
Schultz is one of four candidates running to take over from Pat Santeramo, said Davie Council Member Bryan Caletka, a teacher who is also running for union president.
Santeramo is awaiting trial on charges he stole roughly $300,000 from the union. He is accused of racketeering, grand theft, campaign contribution violations and money laundering.
As one of Santeramo’s inner circle, Schutlz was scooped up in the same probe that snared Santeramo.
She pleaded guilty in April to one misdemeanor campaign finance violation in connection with a union scheme to avoid political contribution limits in the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride.
A contribution was made in her name, although it wasn’t her money, according to prosecutors.
Schultz cooperated with prosecutors, received a year’s probation and adjudication was withheld.
After her arrest, Schultz remained first vice president of the BTU. She was recently named by the BTU as their representative to the assemblies for the American Federation of Teachers and the Florida Education Association.
She was elected a Broward Democratic Party committee precinct woman in the August primary.
The BTU has been on the defensive for years, fighting local budget, Tallahassee antagonism against labor organizations and charges of corruption.
The union has roughly 10,000 members and all are eligible to vote for president.
October 2 is the final day to accept ballots.
The recent scandals – the president prior to Santeramo was busted for child pornography and sent to federal prison – are on the mind of one candidate.
Caletka has been a union representative at Western High for the past seven years. Caletka told Browardbeat.com,“I am the only candidate who is not a BTU insider. I’m not a BTU insider. I’m not a BTU insider.”
The winner in this union race must get 50 percent-plus one. So there may be a runoff among the four candidates.
We’ll be hearing about this one for some time.