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Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme

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UPDATE: Two mistakes have been corrected from the original post.

Voters for Washington Children spent $15,000 in digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso in the District 1 Senate race. In addition, Voters for Washington Children spent $10,000 AGAINST Branden Durst in the Legislative District 29, Representative race.

Our sincerest apologies to Luis Moscoso and Branden Durst.

————————————————————————-

Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle.

Money matters – a lot.

The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to persuade. Voters understand politics is a dirty game, but they still believe in the idea that democracy should work for everyone.

Big donors have come up with a practical two step solution to this problem:

  1. Keep the money moving through various PACs.
  2. When it’s time to spend the money, use independent expenditures to further mask the source.

Openly supporting charter schools is a still a risky position for many politicians in Washington State. Let’s take a look at how pro-charter PACs supported their preferred candidates through the use of a PAC with a different name and independent expenditures.

The Name Game

Between July and August of 2016, three PACs contributed $265,500 dollars to Voters for Washington Children. They were:

Stand for Children Washington PAC

7/14    $76,000

7/25    $10,000     

Total: $86,000

Washington Charters PAC

7/15   $70,000

7/25   $27,500

7/25   $10,000

8/03   $15,000    

Total:$122,500

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Washington PAC

7/14   $40,000

7/18   $  7,500

7/25   $10,000    

Total:$57,500

The Independent Expenditure Shell Game

Voters for Washington Children contracted with a group called RALLY in San Francisco to produce digital ads and mailers for the candidates Stand for Children, DFER, and Washington Charters PAC supported.

Never heard of RALLY?

Their clients include: Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), TFA-Bay Area, the Green Dot charter chain, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Students Matter (of the lawsuit Vergara v. California), and Act Now for Washington Students.

Remember the charter school ads that ran during Seahawks games last year? RALLY was behind them. They also bused kids to Olympia to testify for the charter bill and coordinated all of those heartfelt cards and letters sent to the state Legislature.

From RALLY’s website:

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, along with coalition members Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and leaders from the business community, partnered with RALLY to find and drive a solution that saved the existing schools and reinstated the will of the voters. RALLY developed and managed a high-impact legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially elected Democrats, to confront the prospect of being held responsible for closing public schools that serve a racially and economically diverse student population – or taking action to support their constituents.

To deliver our message, RALLY created a campaign that truly put parents and students front and center. We built, encouraged, and supported a strong grassroots advocacy team that made more than 1,000 calls per week to elected officials, flooded legislative offices with homemade postcards and letters, and brought hundreds of people to Olympia for multiple rallies to keep schools open. A statewide petition activated 20,000 new public charter supporters and created a backbone for a strategic digital effort that augmented the on-the-ground tactics.

Grassroots efforts were coupled with an aggressive paid media campaign designed to make it impossible for state leaders to ignore the plight of public charters. RALLY produced four television ads, which aired during Seattle Seahawks games and nightly newscasts. Additionally, voters in key swing districts around the state received a series of direct mail, robo-calls, and targeted earned media. Statewide, every major newspaper endorsed saving the schools and called on Democrats to stay true to their social justice roots. These tactics were combined with a PAC fundraising effort, a relentless online digital presence, and a robust social media strategy.

RALLY’s Independent Expenditure Ads and Mailings

How did the candidates supported by the pro-charter PACs do in the primary? Let’s take a look at the races where RALLY’s services were put to use:

Legislative District 29-State Representative Pos. 1

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.38.27 PM

David Sawyer, Democrat, Representative, 29th District

7/26   $10,000 for digital ads AGAINST Branden Durst, Democrat

7/27    $10,000 for digital ads

Total: $20,000

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.12.30 AM

Legislative District 1-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.41.00 PM

Guy Palumbo, Democrat, State Senate, District 1

7/21   $10,925 for digital ads

7/23   $11,714.55 for mailing

7/26   $15,000 for digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso, Democrat

Total: 37,639.55

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.29.17 AM

Legislative District 5-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.45.42 PM

Mark Mullet, Democrat, State Senate, District 5

7/21    $10,658.19  direct mail

7/23    $16,189.83  two mailings

7/26    $11,525.07  direct mail  

Total: $38,373.09

Legislative District 41-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.48.20 PM

Stephen Litzow, Republican, District 41, Senate

7/22    $4,000  digital ads

7/25    $19,930.28  direct mail

7/26    $16,782.63  direct mail

Total: $40,712.91

Not to be forgotten, 0n 7/27 RALLY was contracted to produced $30,000 worth of digital ads for Steven Hobbs, Democrat, who ran for the Lieutenant Governor position during the primary. Hobbs ended up coming in fourth after Cyrus Habib, Marty McClendon, and Karen Fraser.

Conclusion

Besides the Lieutenant Governor’s race, every campaign where RALLY’s services were engaged resulted in one of Voters for Washington Children’s candidates advancing to the general election.

Seems like Stand for Children Washington PAC, Washington Charters PAC, and Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC got a solid return on their investment.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

9 comments on “Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme

  1. Rebecca ziegler
    August 25, 2016

    Our children’s education shouldn’t be for sale! It should be a RIGHT! Someone hopes to make money from your tax dollars support. Instead we need to fund and better staff the schools already in place! The profit to be made by that would be measured in more educated generations. This would be worth more than any monatary profit made!

  2. animar64
    August 24, 2016

    Reblogged this on MY ENDURING BONES and commented:
    The worst thing is, that people really believe that the candidates have nothing to do with this sort of thing- the bottom line is nobody throws this kind of money around unless they consider it a sound investment. Those hit ads? The candidates OWN them. End of story. Period.

    • seattleducation2010
      August 24, 2016

      Yes they do because their campaigns benefit from the ads and if they win, those LEV and TFA folks will be first in their offices.

      • animar64
        August 24, 2016

        Isn’t that the truth!
        And while that is going on their constituents will be sitting in the reception area waiting for their 5-8 minutes.

      • seattleducation2010
        August 24, 2016

        Indeed.

  3. jeffsalisbury
    August 23, 2016

    Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:

    Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme
    by seattleducation2010
    Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle. Money matters – a lot. The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to […]

    Read more of this post…

  4. Anita
    August 22, 2016

    Thank you for clarifying that $15,000 was used AGAINST Luis Moscoso in digital ads.

    These ads were run on sites like FB and contained the most heinous mis-information I have ever seen used against a candidate ( let alone by one democrat running against another democrat ) here in the 1st LD.

    Luis has always stood firm with our Teachers and Labor and your prompt attention to this meant a lot to us.

    Anita Moscoso

  5. Leonard
    August 20, 2016

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Look a little bit deeper and you will see that Connie Ballmer- and all the other usual suspects- are contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to privatize our education system.

    On 2/16 Connie Ballmer contributed $500K to Stand for Children. This is the same group that is trying to unseat Supreme Court justices for voting against I 1240:

    https://web.pdc.wa.gov/rptimg/default.aspx?batchnumber=100679665

    Who could forget that Eric Pettigrew has been pushing charter schools- for years. His campaign is heavily funded at $80K and it is no surprise to see PAC money from DFER and other groups supporting charter schools.

    http://web.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CandidateData/contributions?param=UEVUVEUgIDExOA====&year=2016&type=legislative

    • seattleducation2010
      August 20, 2016

      Yes, there is much more going on, this is about a new route for the cash via RALLY.

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