Thursday, May 8, 2014

Education Reform Now Dumps $2.1M Into Newark Super PAC To Defeat Ras Baraka

Just yesterday the Star Ledger reported on the intriguing campaign finance issues swirling around the Newark mayoral race.
On the other side of the city, Baraka charged that Jeffries was hiding the identity of his donors through an independent expenditure group — Newark First — which records show has raised more than $1.3 million from a handful of donors, including an $850,000 contribution from Education Reform Now, a politically active education reform organization. (emphasis mine)
But it looks like they may not have dug deep enough.

According to ELEC filings, between April 11, 2014 and May 1, 2014, DFER aligned Education Reform Now, has poured over $2 million dollars into the Super PAC Newark First. 

As I wrote yesterday, on April 11th (the same day the money started rolling in) Joe Williams, Education Reform Now President and DFER Executive Director, sent out a rallying cry for Jeffries.
Joe Williams made his pitch on the DFER website on April 11th, touting Jeffries' "reform cred."
Raised by his grandma in Newark’s South Ward, Shavar has dedicated his career to helping kids as president of the city’s Boys and Girls Club, head of Newark’s School Advisory Board, and founding board president of TEAM Academy Charter. Yet despite his reform cred, he remains in a close race leading up to the May 13th election. His opponent, Ras Baraka, promises to undo progress made during Cory Booker’s tenure, and has $ pouring in from the Newark Teachers Union endorsing his campaign. Donate just $10 to Shavar by clicking here. (emphasis mine)
Looks like they were able to shake loose a little more than $10. $2,099,990 more to be exact.

The $2.1 million from Education Reform Now is certainly the largest donation to Newark First, but it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the hedge fund/investment bank/education reform juggernaut that has been unleashed in this mayoral race.

Jenna, John, Christy and Stephen Mack
The Mack family alone, lead by ex Morgan Stanley CEO and current Cuomo advisor John Mack, has donated $172,000 to Newark First. Multiple donations have come in from Jenna, Stephen and John Mack, ranging from as little as $5,000 to as much as $126,000, between March 27,2014 and April 25, 2014.

Lee Ainslie, CEO of Dallas, TX hedge fund Maverick Capital, kicked in another $26,000, bringing the total contributions from the financial sector to Newark First to $198,000

And this is just the money that went into the Super PAC! What about the money donated directly to the Jeffries campaign?

By my estimation, combing through all the ELEC filings to date, education reformers and Wall Street whizzes have ponied up another $800,000+ directly to Jeffries.


Combing through the list is fascinating, a veritable Who's Who of Ed Reform and Wall Street. Even Michael Bloomberg threw in $15,000! Notice the Mack family has donated directly to Jeffries' campaign as well, another $26,000 a piece for John and his wife Christy, which brings the Mack family total to an even $250,000. A nice, round quarter million dollars.

DFER made a direct $14,000 contribution to the campaign in late March, and both Joe Williams and Whitney Tilson made small personal contributions of $500 each. Ed Reform superstar and DFER co-founder Boykin Curry makes an appearance with $26,000, as does Booker supporter and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. Contributions from Ackman, his wife, and others from his Pershing Square Capital Management total over $100,000.

The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund ($26,000) and MCJ Amelior Foundation ($75,000 total from Raymond, Patricia and Christine Chambers), were both early donors to the Newark Charter School Fund.

Donors hail from San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA; Baltimore, MD; Rye and New York, NY; and Montclair and Morristown NJ, but not a single one of these big money donors actually lives or works in Newark. 

The reform and hedge fund donations to the Newark First Super PAC and those made directly to the Jeffries campaign, create a $3.1 million dollar war chest to defeat Ras Baraka. 

(I say this with the caveat that this figure is just me pouring over ELEC filings, so there are donations I surely missed and who knows how much more has come in since the last reports were filed.)

The real question is, what does $3.1 million dollars buy these plutocrats?

Bob Braun has it just about right on that one.
They are all rich, hedge-fund managers who have absolutely nothing in common with the people of Newark–but they are providing the money to buy themselves a mayor and to ensure Cami Anderson imposes her plan to destroy neighborhood public schools.
The more charters there are in Newark, the more money hemorrhages out of Newark, and back into the pockets of Wall Street. The $3.1 million is an investment. An investment to ensure that the money keeps flowing. 

Baraka is the tourniquet the neighborhood public schools need, to secure the funding in the schools where the students need it the most. 

Don't let the hedge-fund managers and ed reformers buy the destruction of public education in Newark. 

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