Republican money is turning up in more races for Little Rock School Board. These are non-partisan races but Republican orthodoxy tends to line up with the Walton-influenced charter school agenda that’s also a factor in the first races for the board in six years.
Yesterday, I outlined the Republican/Walton influence in money raised by Jeff Wood for his Zone 9 race against Dr. Kieng Vang-Dings (the Times’ pick in this race).
Many of the same names supporting Wood appear in the report of Tommy Branch for Zone 3, a section of Southwest Little Rock whose schools include Romine, Western Hills, David O. Dodd and Meadowcliff. This isn’t surprising, because he’s endorsed by Walter Hussman, the charter-school-loving, union-hating and Republican-supporting publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Branch has raised $8,900, but he must have assurances that there’s more where that came from because he’s spent $35,000 on his consultant, McLarty Consulting. The report fails to detail specifically how that money was spent on mailers, radio and other expenses. I thought the legislature fixed this loophole after I complained about its exploitation previously on a tax campaign run by McLarty for the chamber of commerce.
Branch’s Republican contributors include $1,000 from Lisenne Rockefeller, $2,500 from poultry magnate Ron Cameron, $100 from lobbyist and former Republican legislator John Burris, $500 from Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin’s PAC, $250 from lobbyist and Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill’s wife Martha Hill, $450 from investor Remmel Dickinson, a Republican contributor, and $250 from another Republican businessman, Gene Pfeifer and his wife Linda. Branch reported receiving $2,900 in three contributions from Arkansas Learns ($100 over the limit if accurately recorded), the PAC established by the Walton-financed charter school lobbyist Gary Newton and containing money contributed primarily by Lisenne Rockefeller and Jim Walton of Bentonville. Contractor Haskell Dickinson, who contributes to the Progress PAC that supported Wood, gave Branch $450.
No reports are on file currently for Branch’s opponents, Evelyn Callaway, a retired teacher endorsed by the Little Rock Education Association, and Michael Sanders.
UPDATE: Branch said he’d discovered some errors had been made in his report and he’d be amending them. When he’s filed it, I’ll supply the changes.
This looks likely to be the big money race of the year, for a neighborhood including Hillcrest and the Heights. Ali Noland and Stuart Mackey are the candidates.
Here’s Noland’s report. She’s endorsed by the Little Rock Education Association and the Arkansas Times. She’s raised $46,545 and her grassroots campaign is evident with pages and pages of more than 400 contributors (including $100 from my wife) some as small as $7. She listed three contributions of $1,000 or more — $1,000 from Catherine Baran of Hot Springs, $1,015 from Julia Garcia of Little Rock and $1,800 from Ila Brady of Houston.
Here’s Mackey’s report. He’s endorsed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He reports having raised $19,953. His largest contribution was his own $2,000. Contractor Haskell Dickinson turns up again with $450. Mackey is in real estate and he drew heavily from contributors in the same business. His only contributor of $1,000 was Nan Ellen East of Little Rock.
Candidates are Ryan Davis and Norman Johnson for a zone covering East Little Rock, including King, Carver, Rockefeller, Stephens, Gibbs, Washington, Booker and Central schools.
Johnson, who is endorsed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, reported $3,400 in contributions, most of it from people who also contributed to the Jeff Wood campaign. Gary Newton, the Walton-subsidized charter school lobbyist, gave her $2,200. Former school board member Melanie Fox gave her $500. Johnson contributed $500 herself.
No report is on file yet for Davis, endorsed by the Arkansas Times.
We already know Davis received $500 from Gary Newton’s Arkansas Learns group and that he intends to keep it, as he explained when I noted his Facebook post ripping Newton.
More when I have it.