Billionaire political spending has infected every level of politics, from city hall on up. One example: races for the Arkansas legislature:
Here, for example, is political work by something called the Arkansas Federation for Children, an affiliate of a national group founded by the DeVos family (Betsy DeVos is Donald Trump’s public-school-damaging education secretary). They’ve targeted four Arkansas House races, in each case backing a Republican over candidates with, for the most part, progressive records on public education.
The layout of the web pages
Who’s behind this? Big money this year has come from William Oberndorf ($73,000 of $99,000 raised in 2018). He put in $50,000 specifically for this election. He’s a California billionaire who’s spent a great deal of money on privatizing education. Lisenne Rockefeller, the widow of the former lieutenant governor, kicked in $15,000 during the primary season. Another $10,000 contributor in the primary season was Trace Strategies, Laurie Lee’s consulting/lobbying business that has made big money working for, among others, Walton family school agenda projects.
The group has one more filing to come 10 days before the election. There’s more where this dough came from.
No surprise that this group opposes Democratic Rep. Greg Leding of Fayetteville, in his Senate District 4 race against Dawn Clemence. Leding’s crime is that he raised questions about the stealth school voucher program that has been misleadingly branded as a “scholarship” program.
The group wants to defeat Jonathan Crossley of Jacksonville, a crackerjack principal in the Little Rock School District, who’s challenging far-right ideologue Rep. Karilyn Brown of Sherwood in District 41.
It brands Andrew Collins, a solid choice to succeed Rep. Clarke Tucker in District 35 based on his stance on issues, as an “east coast liberal.” (Is that worse than a Left Coast ALEC-backing billionaire?) Some East Coast liberal. He grew up in Little Rock, played Junior Deputy baseball and learned taekwondo at a school on Rodney Parham. OK. He went to Duke for college and Columbia Law School. And then he came home (from Washington, D.C., not exactly East Coast) to work in the family business.
The group is also backing Republican Ricky Lattimore in a race for District 11 in Southeast Arkansas. The group would have you believe his only opponent is Rep. Mark McElroy, running as an independent. They conveniently leave out retired Circuit Judge Don Glover, a Democrat, who’s also making a formidable challenge for the seat. McElroy, a legislative nonentity, bolted the Democrats undoubtedly hoping to peel off sufficient white votes to win the race against two black candidates in a district with a strong African-American vote. McElroy’s defeat would be no great loss, but any candidate backed by this opaque organization of billionaires deserves suspicion.
If you believe in real public schools, the choice is clear. Vote against this shadowy outside money’s candidates.