Accountability California Charter Schools Education Industry Education Reform Privatization

California: Charter Lobby Spent at Least $91 Million to Buy Political Influence

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Sara Roos, the blogger known the Red Queen in L.A., is an intrepid investigator, following the money. She has learned inevitably that the charter school lobby is very rich and spends lavishly to buy politicians’ favor.

In this post, she scratches the surface of the charter lobby’s complex political-financial machinations. Given the known gaps that are not included in this excellent report (e.g., the funding for Marshall Tuck in his race against Tony Thurmond), the actual spending by the charter lobby may be five to ten times what she writes here.

”The Charter industry lobby has expended a total of $91.4 million dollars in California between 11/18/08 and 12/31/18, according to political financial information stored online by the Secretary of State through “Cal-Access”…

”What is so confusing is the multi-stage process by which the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) lobby dispenses its largesse. There is a direct process and a derivative one. Over this time period CCSA has opened 25 distinct “Recipient Committees”, entities raising contributions from others, nine of which have been subsequently terminated. These 25 Committees have operated under 54 different names. Some of this multiplicity is reasonable because the lobbying effort is state-wide and different Committees will make expenditures to different local issues and candidates. But some of it is a succession of evolving names associated with a specific Committee. Sure, it all traces back to the same ideological pot of gold so while the zeitgeist shifts, the named Committee can just get a slight upgrade in verbiage since the spigot is unchanged. But it feels shifty in intention too, as if the Committee-As-Palimpsest were a deliberate effort to overwrite and obscure the group’s underlying, persistent and singular, special interest.”

The names of the organizations paid by the lobbyists is deliberately meant to fool voters into thinking that the lobby represents teachers, students, public schools, even the downtrodden, when it is actually a front for billionaires.

“Parent Teacher Alliance,” “Families and Educators for Public Education,” “Students for Educational Reform,” “L.A. Parents, Teachers, and Students for Great Public Schools,” are just a few of the deceptive shells advancing the cause of privatizing public schools.

Roos writes:

“The pattern of marketing hype is plain as can be:  “Teachers and Parents”, “Excellent Public Schools”, “Great Public Education”, “Public Charter Schools Now”. A bot could mix and match phrases but credibility or accountability is harder to design.”

Roos includes a list of the candidates to whom the charter lobby has given large sums, as well as those it spent big to defeat.

As she notes, her list is far from comprehensive. For example, it shows an expenditure of only $1,050,000 for Marshall Tuck by the charter lobby, when the actual amount spent on his campaign for State Superintendent of Public Instruction was about  $30 million.

The best news is that the massive spending of the charter lobby is no guarantee of victory.

“While undeniably the charter lobby is comprised of far more IECs than this limited set which display the “Charter Schools Association” label, something approaching the 40%-50% mark of charter lobby expenditures may have catastrophically failed in influencing anyone of late. It’s encouraging to recognize the discouragement of dark money and dark forces. Civil Justice is served when resources are distributed fairly and equitably.  There is no true way to describe jerry-rigged redistributions as anything but a favoritism scheme for the anointed. And there is no way that spending ungodly sums on persuasion and trickery is in the best interests of anyone but those with something to hide.”

 

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