Carpetbaggers dump $1M more into charter-school campaign
By JIM WALLS
Oct. 26, 2012 — Just this month, Walmart heiress Alice Walton and other out-of-state interests dumped more than $1.1 million into the campaign to allow more state-chartered public schools in Georgia, new campaign finance filings show.
Families for Better Public Schools, the largest of the pro-charter committees, filed papers at noon today showing it had sunk another $1.28 million in October into the campaign for the proposed amendment to Georgia’s constitution. Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to accept or reject Amendment One, which would allow the state to charter schools over the objections of local school systems.
Walton, the committee’s largest single donor, kicked in $350,000 on top of the $250,000 she’d given previously.
Other big donors disclosed in the committee’s latest filing were:
- San Francisco billionaire Doris Fisher, widow of The Gap founder Donald Fisher, $250,000
- Students First, a Washington advocacy group, $250,000
- Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, $250,000
- Peter Islands Resort CEO Richard Gaby of Atlanta, $100,000
- J.C. Huizenga, founder of a national charter-school management firm, $25,000
- Wall Street investment manager Joe Bridy, $25,000
- Atlanta developer Tom Cousins, $20,000
All told, Families for Better Public Schools has raised nearly $1.8 million, 77 percent of it from outside Georgia. Corporate donors that stand to gain from amending Georgia’s constitution include K12 Inc. (which has given $100,000), Charter Schools USA ($50,000) and Huizenga’s National Heritage Academies ($75,000).
StudentsFirst and three other Washington-based groups — the American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity and PublicSchoolOptions.org — have given $418,000 more to their own committees to promote the charter-school amendment. The federation on Oct. 9 also created another ballot committee that has yet to file a disclosure. (We’ll update all these totals as more disclosures come in over the next few days.)
On top of that, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, longtime charter-school advocates, donated $92,000 last month to Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate. (Sixteen Democrats shared another $8,500 in contributions from the Koch bros.)
All that cash adds up to about $2.28 million so far to push for the amendment’s passage and implementation. Of that, Georgians accounted for about $410,000, or 18 percent.
If you don’t count the chamber of commerce and the three rich guys (Marcus, Gaby and Cousins), Georgians contributed $30,615 to the cause. That’s 1.4 percent — by any measure, hardly a groundswell of in-state support for the charter amendment.