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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bezos Family Funds Four PACs in Charter Schools Shell Game

Posted by on Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Paid for by the government-hating/charter-school-loving Bezos family.
  • Paid for by the government-hating/charter-school-loving Bezos family.

At first it was a bit remarkable to see four separate charter school PACs—Stand for Children WA PAC, Democrats for Education Reform WA PAC, Revising the Status Quo PAC, and Education Voters Political Action Fund—all spending money in a handful of Seattle area legislative primaries. Remarkable, that is, until I peeked behind the PDC curtain and pretty much found one PAC masquerading as four.

Stand for Children, the best financed of the three, has raised $163,800 from just 17 contributors, with almost half its money coming from Jeff Bezos' dad. Education Voters has raised $75,190 from just four contributors, almost all of it coming from Bezos' parents. Democrats for Education Reform comes off as only slightly more democratic, raising $55,450 from 20 contributors, including $15,000 from Bezos' parents. And Revising the Status Quo has raised $8,915 from 21 contributors, $6,000 of which came from Stand and Democrats for Education Reform.

Of the $297,355 raised across the four PACs, $165,000 came from the Bezos family. And of the handful of other contributors, many of them have contributed to two or more of the PACs.

On the expenditure side, all four PACs have contributed to Sylvester Cann and Stephanie Bowman, and Stand, Education Voters, and Democrats for Education Reform have all done independent expenditures in support of Cann and Bowman. Further more, all of these IEs were done by the same direct mail house, Amplified Strategies, a firm that proudly boasts its work on the No on I-1098 (High earners income tax) a campaign to which the billionaire Bezos family contributed $150,000.

So while it may look like Cann and Bowman are getting a lot of support from a broad array of good-sounding organizations with "education" in their names, it's pretty much just the libertarian tax-hating/charter-school-loving Bezos family (which has also given $500,000 to the charter schools initiative) laundering its money through a bunch of shell PACs. Legally, but still....


Comments (20) RSS

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No one else is doing this kind of analytical reporting any more. This is great!
Posted by LMcGuff on August 2, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
this is such a hack job. Plenty of good democrats, Bill Clinton, President Obama, and even the second largest teachers union (AFT) support charter schools. Stop equating groups that support charter schools with something like taking money for oil companies or tobacco lobbyists. Plus SEIU and other unioins move money around like the ALL the TIME.

Where was this crack "analytical reporting" when you guys endorse Sue Parisian for judge. She is endorsed by Rob McKenna, Rob "Get a Job" McKenna, wft! Shameful you couldn't have spent more of your time on that one.
Posted by ScubaSteve1987 on August 2, 2012 at 1:45 PM · Report this
One more reason to vote for Gerry Pollet instead of Cann.
Posted by sarah70 on August 2, 2012 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Good story. Cann and Bowman are just puppets of business, and I hope they don't get the opportunity to privatize education. Glad there isn't a charter school advocate for the Bezos to bankroll in the 36th...
Posted by NoyouCanntprivatizeschools on August 2, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
Buy from as if your life depended on it
Posted by Jed on August 2, 2012 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Wasn't Bezos just the good guy who donated $2.5m to defend gay marriage? And why are charter schools bad again? I'm all outraged out, I tells ya.
Posted by DawginExile on August 2, 2012 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Well, most Dems don't support charters. Obama is way off on this one (and I suspect because of his good friend, Arne Duncan). Charters are about money because they certainly aren't about results. Twenty years and 41 states and where is all this innovation and great academic outcomes? Not there and not in any real numbers.

Why are charters bad? They aren't "bad" - they don't deliver what they promise. You don't upend an entire system on the "hope" of better results at a few schools. The charter industry is money industry - read this and you'll see.…. It's all about the money in online learning, charters, testing, etc.

Also, why are out of state people like the head of Netflicks in California and one of the Wal-Mart heiress contributing to the 1240 campaign? Why are people who don't live here trying to tell parents and voters in independent Washington State (we already voted no THREE times) how we should educate our kids when their states, with charters, are doing no better?

Initiative 1240? Well, if you like more government bureaucracy, less elected oversight, the ability for a charter to takeover ANY existing school (failing or not), the ability for a charter to buy a public building for less than its worth and ZERO guarantee that we will see better academic outcomes for struggling students - these are all things to consider because they are ALL in the initiative.

And, of course, the fact that they have consistently underserved Special Education and ELL students (and homeless) students, leaving those high-need, high-cost students to traditional schools. It's easier to look better when you can control your population.
Posted by westello on August 2, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
@2 Oil companies just fuck over our environment. Charter schools will fuck over our kids' futures and our state budget.

It's much easier to get worked up about your community's kids and your community's tax dollars than it is to get worked up about the environment.
Posted by dirge on August 2, 2012 at 5:02 PM · Report this
Don't feed the greed. No on charter school.
Posted by Kate Martin on August 2, 2012 at 5:14 PM · Report this
Thanks for doing this kind of reporting. It is much needed.

Dora Taylor
Posted by dorainseattle on August 2, 2012 at 5:33 PM · Report this
so, good little lefties shake their heads in amazement at the antics and at the effectiveness of the tea party right wing stooges and their dear venal Reich wing leaders.

there IS something to be learned, even from stooges and the venal.

While it wonderful that some Bezos family plunked down 2.5 million on behalf of the civil & economic rights of the non-hetero community members, some of the other Bezos crowd is enabling the destruction of community members, teachers, working hard for the community in a too broken system, a system the teachers aren't in charge of. Arne, Rahm, DFER, CRPE, PFL, NCTQ, LEV, SFC, ... are enabling the same crap. LOTS of 'moderate' dems are NOT stopping and haven't stopped the Rodney Toms and the Liebermans with their incessant sell outs to the venal Reich wing leaders, destroying the economic security of all of us with butt kissing to wall street and to 'health' insurance companies.

How much do the stooges of the Tea Party put up with this kind of playing both sides of the fence crap?

As far as I'm concerned, this good little lefty is actually THE MIDDLE, and I'm NOT supporting "leaders" who play both sides of the fence anymore - decades of voting for lessor of two evils yuppie scum sell outs, political incompetents, and hand wringing diaper pissers has gotten me a bunch of sell outs, incompetents and diaper pissers. Duh. I got what I paid for. I'm done with that losing stratergery, and I'm doing THE MIDDLE venal stooge stratergery. I can't think of a current Dem office holder worth a penny or a dime, a second of time, or a vote.

Posted by stratergery on August 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM · Report this
Since there's no outstanding research to show that charter schools serve students better than traditional public schools, could it be that Bezos $$$tands to gain from charter schools and the privatization of schools? Bet on it! He's a bottom line kind-a-guy. Stay out of schools, Bezos. It makes ya look like the calculating money-grubber that you are.
Posted by LibraryChick99 on August 2, 2012 at 8:03 PM · Report this
Since there is an underwhelming lack of research to support that charter schools serve students better than traditional public schools, could it be that Bezos and others $$$tand to gain from charter schools and the privatization of public schools? Bet on it! Bezos, shame on you. You look like the money-grubber that your public profile portrays you to be. Voters, put him back in his cubicle and out of our schools!
Posted by LibraryChick99 on August 2, 2012 at 8:11 PM · Report this
...and if Jeff Bezos were proud of his "stand for children," why not be public about his donation instead of hiding his donations behind these so-called ed reform groups? Perhaps he's not as proud of this stand as his stand on gay marriage.
Posted by LibraryChick99 on August 2, 2012 at 8:16 PM · Report this
The Bezos family is also behind Guy Palumbo's attempt to unseat Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe in the First LD (Bothell). Palumbo is endorsed by Stand for Children and Dems for Ed Reform because he supports charters (public funds for private schools) and evaluating teachers based on their students' test scores (instead of their own work).

McAuliffe is one of public education's strongest defenders in Oly. Palumbo is a retired amazon exec.
Posted by Kraig Peck on August 2, 2012 at 8:21 PM · Report this
It’s not Jeff Bezos on this one, but his parents Mike and Jackie. Not that Jeff’s not a turd, but got to keep your Bezos’s straight.

I’d say that most of the rich people who support charters do so because they live inside the psychopathic echo-chamber of their wealth. They only hang out with people like them. They all chat vigorously at their parties and galas and Davos’s and Aspens and one says,”hey, have you heard about charter schools?” and the other goes, “wow, that sounds neat.” And then it’s all, "how can I help" and "hey what if we did this" and "why don’t I contact so and so….” And then they just get into it, man. There’s no reasoning at that point. Nobody tells them they're wrong, ever, because everybody wants their money or to be next to it.

I think you can look all this up in the DSM IV.

Posted by Miss Waterlow on August 2, 2012 at 11:47 PM · Report this
Btw, Jeff only gave all that $ because someone he KNEW asked him, not because he was sitting around wondering how he can help gay people. I’m glad she asked and I’m glad he gave. Really, it’s great. But, still, it kind of makes me sick how everyone swoons when these people put their gobsmacking pocket change on table. I give as much as I can to campaigns and progressive organizations and so do a lot of other tiny people. We try but nobody gives a shit. Anyway, clap clap, Jeff.
Posted by Miss Waterlow on August 2, 2012 at 11:59 PM · Report this
Is it just me, or were Seattle, King County, and Washington State better places to live before the billionaires started throwing their weight around?
Posted by PCM on August 3, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
I know very loyal Democrats who are very grateful for their charter schools because they are an alternative to the only other choice they have, which is more violent, more dirty, and more crowded. What do you tell people like that? "You don't deserve another education choice because we don't like the ideological implications?"

The "they don't perform as well" argument is useless, as "perform" means "score high on arbitrary and meaningless tests based on arbitrary and meaningless curriculae." And even then, there is zero evidence that charter schools generally perform worse on these arbitrary and meaningless tests. And even then, think about what it means to tell low and middle-class parents, "the neighborhood school you and your children prefer doesn't perform well on standardized tests, so now you must go to a more violent, more crowded school." It's a pretty awful position.

Charter schools are no more or less flawed than public schools, all of which are as flawed as the individuals running them. In the meantime, opposing the opportunity for lower income parents to have more educational choices for their kids is not a very compassionate position to take.
Posted by LJM on August 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Why should ANYONE have "more choices" at my expense, LJM? My elected school board, using the policies they create, designs a system they think best meets the needs of ALL children. A charter, by nature of its charter, is separate from the school district, gets to run its own game. With my tax dollars? No. There are plenty of choices in my public schools already, and if people want more they should use board policy on program creation to make them.
The "choices" argument would be analogous to someone not liking the fire station the city provides them: too far from their house, older equipment, too many firefighters or whatever, so they tell the city commisioners to bypass the process and just give them the tax money to build their own station, next door to their house and painted their favorite color.
These are public monies, and should be distributed by our elected school boards to benefit ALL children, not just YOUR children. No, the charter school industry can't have my money.
Posted by public school supporter on August 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this

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