I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reformy Campaign Money Machine Update

In my last post, I explained how eight very wealthy people appear to have coordinated their campaign donations to support reformy state- and school district-level candidates across the nation:
  • Greg Penner
  • Arthur Rock
  • David Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Kent Thiry
  • Lydia Callaghan
  • Alan and Jennifer Fournier
A commenter at my post, however, objects to my characterization of this reformy intrusion into politics:
Might be disappointing, but there's no conspiracy here - just regular old political organizing and mobilization. Virtually all of the names that you mention above were candidates supported by DFER: http://www.dfer.org/blog/2012/11/2012_election_r.php

The claim that something untoward is happening here is pretty baseless - the idea of recommended candidates is a basic one, pursued by politically minded groups across the spectrum - see 
http://emilyslist.org/ or http://www.neafund.org/main.cfm?actionId=globalShowStaticContent&screenKey=cmpContent&s=nea&htmlKey=aboutrecommendednew

Via the DFER mailing list, I supported a number of these candidates myself.
I think this comment deserves a full response:

- First: this isn't a large, uncoordinated group of people dropping $25 or $100 donations on an approved list of candidates. We're talking about the coordinated spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars on low-level races throughout the country by a small group of very wealthy individuals. The idea that these people are independently giving to a list of candidates strains credulity.

- Second: many of the candidates I named were not on the DFER list the commenter cited. Missing were:
  • The Perth Amboy, NJ Board of Education candidates.
  • Half of the Colorado legislature candidates: Andy Kerr, Pete Lee, Brittany Pettersen, Dave Young, and Chuck Rodosevich.
  • Alison Serafin, candidate for the Nevada state BOE.
  • Oregon State Representative Tobias Read.
  • Jeff Klein, New York State Senator.
Using Google to search a website is, in my experience, imperfect; I did, however, search the names above at the "www.dfer.org" domain. It's true that most of the slate in Colorado was endorsed by DFER. And DFER did endorse Klein in 2010; however, I could find no prominent endorsement for 2012. And no hits for Perth Amboy, Serafin, or Read.

So how did this wealthy and reformy bunch know to send their money to all of these candidates - even the ones DFER didn't mention?

- Third: the DFER "Hot List" did intrigue me: did the Reformy Eight endorse any other candidates on this list? I can't say for certain that they didn't endorse some candidates: state campaign finance databases vary in quality and accuracy, so it's possible some donations were made that didn't get into the records. I can only say that I spent some time looking at state- and local-level races on the list, and I found this:
  • Callaghan, Penner, Goldberg, Sandberg, and Rock gave a total of $34,000 to the Indiana State Senate campaigns of Tim DeLaney and Mary Ann Sullivan.
  • The entire Reformy Eight gave a total of $34,400 $17,200* to Sarah Usdin's campaign for the Orleans Parish School Board.
  • I couldn't find evidence in state records of giving to any of the other names on the list.
So the Reformy Eight gave to some of the candidates on the DFER list - but not all. And, again, they gave to several candidates who were not explicitly endorsed by DFER.

So let's get real: this isn't a group of independent folks, acting on their own, who happened to give to a variety of low-level races.

This is a organized, nation-wide money bomb, worth $230,930* that I can document, clearly coordinated and funded by very wealthy people (many of whom have ties to a charter management organization) and targeted at state- and local-level races.

In other words: someone bundled these people's money and used it in targeted races. Who was it? 

We'll never tell.

ADDING: As to the comparison of the Reformy Eight to the NEA fund:

When you can show me a married couple of teachers who've dropped $40K in one election cycle on a series of local and state races, let me know.

* Update: Seems like I double counted here. But there are more races that I didn't include. Stand by...

7 comments:

jenna angle said...

Brilliant blog, thank you very much. It seems very well written and I have taken my time to read it thoroughly.

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jcg said...

Jazzman, amazing investigative reporting! I linked this site to the Knoxville blogs. Maybe we'll find some of these names in TN.

cmooretech said...

I think this group has a lot to do with them getting together...as they are also minor contributors in many of these campaigns.
http://educationalequity.org/

This is also a nice article on many of these people: http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/study-the-faces-of-the-new-tyrants/

Unknown said...

Dave and Cheryl must agree with the randi Weingartens of the world: they both went all out for Obama and the Dems:
"Sanberg hosted a fundraising event for President Obama last year. She and her husband have been strong Democrat supporters, donating $35,800 to Obama's election campaign, $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and $2,500 for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's campaign last year, according to filings."
http://www.ibtimes.com/facebook-coo-sheryl-sandbergs-8-million-house-photos-404712

Unknown said...

All out and all aboard for obama. The nea came out for the reelection of corporate reformer in chief way back in 2011. Lest some progressives tried to push Bach against "the more effective evil" (Glen Ford, Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil | Black Agenda Report
http://blackagendareport.com/content/why-barack-obama-more-effective-evil
Oct. 1012: "Weingarten is urging members in [Ohio and Florida] to donate time to Obama’s reelection campaign by join canvassing and phone banking efforts. The AFT, along with the larger National Education Association (NEA), has organized pro-Obama events across the country for months. With just about two weeks to go until Election Day, Weingarten’s bus tours in Ohio and Florida are an attempt to rally teachers for a final push."
http://hechingerreport.org/content/with-time-running-out-teachers-push-pro-obama-message-in-swing-states_10064/

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