Channeling lucre to power

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign today released it’s analysis of large individual campaign contributions that state lawmakers received in 2007 from donors living outside Wisconsin. For pure shamelessness, the top givers, not too surprisingly, were supporters of using public money for private schooling – a total of $41,825. The take away message – vigilance.

School voucher supporters contributed $1 of every $5 in large individual campaign contributions state policymakers accepted from special interests outside Wisconsin in 2007, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review shows.

The leading pro-school-voucher supporters were among the top overall out-of-state donors in 2007 (see Table 2), including Jim and Lynne Walton of Bentonville, Arkansas and Christy Walton of Jackson, Wyoming whose families own Wal-Mart at $15,800; Richard Sharp, of Richmond, Virginia, a retired Circuit City executive at $9,450; and Dick and Betsy DeVos, of Grand Rapids, Michigan whose family founded Amway at $6,150.

The Democracy Campaign noted that:

Milwaukee’s school choice program spends about $120 million a year in state tax dollars to let about 18,500 children attend private religious and nonsectarian schools rather than Milwaukee Public Schools.

The top recipients of out-of-state pro-voucher campaign cash were Darling at $7,175 followed by the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee at $4,550, Republican Senator Dan Kapanke at $2,500, Huebsch at $2,350 and Democratic Representative Jason Fields at $2,300.

In addition to direct contributions to Wisconsin candidates over the past several years, All Children Matter, a Michigan-based pro-voucher group that has political action committees in several states, has spent more than $1.5 million in the 2004 and 2006 elections on phony, negative issue ads, most of which had nothing to do with the school choice issue. Some of their activities drew a complaint pending before the state Government Accountability Board that accuses All Children Matter of laundering $90,000 in corporate contributions through its Virginia PAC which later sent $35,000 to an All Children Matter PAC in Wisconsin to spend on negative electioneering in some 2006 legislative races. The complaint also said the Virginia PAC was not registered in Wisconsin when it transferred the money.

All Children Matter’s Virginia and Ohio PACs were recently fined a total of $5.2 million for similar activity in the 2006 Ohio elections.

For a good history of All Children Matter, Dick DeVos and Howie Rich, check out the Sandlapper’s Diary.

Robert Godfrey

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Filed under AMPS, Gimme Some Truth, School Finance

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