The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Walmart heirs are pouring big sums into organizations expected to play a heavy role in Chicago mayor and alderman elections next year. Charter schools are the theme.
The children and grandchildren of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart, are donors to the nonprofit Illinois Network of Charter Schools and its two allied political action committees, either from the family foundation or individual contributions, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis revealed.
The PACs will be backing pro-charter city candidates against candidates who enjoy teacher union support. The city was recently the site of a successful teacher strike against a charter school.
Some of the details:
Though INCS — the nonprofit organization, not the political arms — does not disclose donors on its annual 990 IRS filings, the Walton Family Foundation yearly reports do reveal grantees.
The Walton Family Foundation annual reports show grants to INCS totaling $7.4 million between 2009 and 2017.
Last year, the Walton foundation cut its grant to INCS to the lowest level since 2010. In 2017, the foundation sent $542,000 to INCS, compared with $1,191,144 in 2016.
While Walton foundation giving to INCS is down, direct political contributions from individual Walton family members to the INCS PACs are continuing at robust levels.
•Alice Walton, the daughter of Helen and Sam Walton, has donated almost $1.4 million to the two INCS PACs between 2015 and this month, most of it to the independent expenditure committee, according to state disclosure records.
On Dec. 19, Alice Walton contributed $250,000 to the INCS Action Independent Committee.
•Her brother, Jim Walton, also gave $250,000 to the same committee on Dec. 19. Since 2015, he has donated $543,800 to the two PACS, state disclosure records show.
•Three Walton grandchildren are donors to the INCS Action PAC.
Steuart Walton contributed $10,800 in 2015; Carrie Walton Penner, $33,000 between 2016 and 2018; and Lukas Walton, who has a Chicago home, $22,200 in total to the INCS Action PAC in 2017 and 2018. He listed a post office box at 1341 W. Fullerton Ave. on campaign disclosures as his address.
On Dec. 6, when [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel opened The Hatchery, a $34 million food and beverage incubator in East Garfield Park, Lukas Walton was noted in the City Hall press release as one of the donors.
This adds up to almost $10 million in Walton money flowing into charter school politics in Illinois. There are hundreds of billions more where that came from, even after similar investments in Arkansas charter school politics, including the ongoing assault on the Little Rock School District.
Noted: Frank Scott Jr., who’ll take office Jan. 1 as Little Rock mayor, spoke warmly enough about charter schools to earn the editorial endorsement of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Its publisher, Walter Hussman, has been an ally in Walton-financed charter school activities.