They’re Going After The Wisconsin Teachers

But that’s not the strategy. That’s the tactic. The point is to destroy public education with “school choice,” which is as toxic a mendacity as were “right to work” and “death tax” before them.

In our last thrilling installment, (““) we had concluded with Eric O’Keefe of the Sam Adams Alliance (which they abbreviate as SAM, because even the rules of grammar must cede power to David Koch’s old “Craniacs”) and there was one other speaker — with whom we concluded and were almost Donne — on the stage at that Tea Party Patriots™ “Summit” in Phoenix, Arizona. During the weekend that 100,000 protested on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, which event do you suppose was absent from the TV coverage, and which did you see covered on all them fair and balanced channelz? (sic)

Foster Friess:

Wisconsin-born Investment Zillionaire Foster Friess
(The Brandywine Funds)
speaks to tea partiers in Phoenix last week

I promise you that this trail will lead back to Wisconsin, and to the Koch Brothers and to School Choice — which seems to be the point of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal to strip $900 million from Education, raise college tuition by 15% and destroy the collective bargaining rights of every public employees’ union that didn’t support him in the prior election.

i. John T. Walton Crashed his Airplane

Foster moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming from his home in Pennsylvania and his business in Delaware — a state which had happily sold its soul to the credit card companies by overturning usury laws and disclosure laws, like North Dakota had done quite successfully. As easy and anonymous to incorporate in as Nevada and closer to the financial markets than any other. Friess moved there in the late 1990s and retired at the turn of the millennium, and there in Millionaire Gulch, he met a fellow with whom he’d become good friends. He writes this on his “official” website and blog page:

Promote School Choice – The late John Walton stated that children of low income parents are getting a raw deal when it comes to education. He devoted much of his time and treasure to promoting school choice. This section of the website is dedicated to him.

Playing Cowboy AND Advocating for “School Choice”

I wrote this and there’s no need to rewrite it:

[Pointless snarking] doesn’t help us see the “bigger picture” of Foster Friess and how he became a make-believe cowboy in 1992, in the Tom Mix Fantasy Land enclave of billionaires that inhabit the valley around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Dick Cheney has a residence there, you might recall. The New York Times notes:

To Mr. Friess and his supporters, Jackson Hole is a national poster child for their opposition to the National Endowment for the Arts. Ranked the seventh wealthiest county in America by the Commerce Department, Teton County would seem to have the wherewithal to support a classical music festival. With fistfuls of millionaires to skew statistics, the average per capita income is $37,427 — 72.5 percent above the national average.

(A Gift With Strings Ties Up a Town,” By JAMES BROOKE, August 23, 1997)

Foster’s kind of a true believer. I mean, by that, a TRUE BELIEVER. He ‘converted’ to a Dominionist form of Christianity, and tags himself with the line “Jesus Christ is the CEO of my soul.” His Jackson Hole neighbor, Neil Patel, a former aide to fellow Jackson Valley resident Dick Cheney, wanted to start up a “Huffington Post” style blog with his pal Tucker Carlson, and Foster ponied up $3 million over lunch:

… tracking the money BEHIND “The Daily Caller” — a former stock manager named Foster S. Friess, who gave up his management of The Brandywine Fund in 2001, after moving to Teton County, Wyoming — then the seventh wealthiest county in the nation — and “retired” to devote himself to pretending to be a cowboy and being applauded for his philanthropyTheWashington Post reports [emphasis added]:

… When they met for lunch, Carlson and Patel had funding offers from two sets of venture capitalists in Washington and Boston, who wanted to serve on various management committees. Before they finished their salad, they exchanged looks of amazement as Friess offered to match the $3 million, but without the bureaucracy. Two days later, they had a deal.

Why would Friess insist that he didn’t even want to serve on the company’s board? “He’s eccentric,” Patel says.

Friess, who has gone hunting with Cheney, is a man of many opinions. He has sent out fundraising letters to fight the Democrats’ health-care legislation, calls much of the information on global warming “distorted and manipulated,” and says “the American public is oblivious to the fact that we are at war and that just playing defense is a disastrous course to take.”

As for his new partners, Friess says by e-mail: “Tucker and Neil present a huge opportunity to re-introduce civility to our political discourse. They are mature, sensible men who are very thoughtful and experienced with pleasant senses of humor and do not take themselves too seriously. They want to make a contribution to the dialogue that occurs in our country that has become too antagonistic, nasty and hostile. . . .

Hoo boy. [from ""]

The Friesses, listed as living in Pennsylvania (2002)

But it is his friendship with John T. Walton that particularly concerns us here.

John T. Walton

Wal-Mart heir and 14th richest person in the world John “Jack” Walton moved to Jackson Hole seven years after Foster Friess did, in 1999. They became good friends, and Foster picked up Walton’s passion. Education Week (4 November 2008):

Sam Walton’s Son Played Major Role In Setting Agenda On School Choice

In 2005, the school choice movement lost one of its leading champions when John T. Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart retailing fortune, died in a plane crash at age 58.

Advocates of expanded educational options say Mr. Walton, more than anyone else, was the driving force behind the Walton Family Foundation’s education work, and its focus on promoting school choice, from public charter schools to private school vouchers.

“He provided the passion and the direction in the early years for the foundation,” said Clint R. Bolick, a longtime school choice lawyer. “John was the most passionate reformer I’ve ever met, and certainly the most unassuming billionaire I’ve ever met.”

Mr. Walton—one of four children born to Helen and Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart—took a hands-on approach to philanthropy. He met often with other funders, education advocates, and politicians to advance the choice agenda. He sat on the boards of groups such as the California Charter Schools Association and the Washington-based Alliance for School Choice, both of which he and the foundation helped create.

Howard L. Fuller, an education professor at Marquette University and a leading proponent of school choice, said Mr. Walton was distressed about the inadequate education so many U.S. children receive. “He really did care deeply about the plight of low-income students,” said Mr. Fuller, a former superintendent of the Milwaukee public schools. “And though it doesn’t fit with the conspiratorial theories, … he wasn’t anti-public education. He was for quality and choice, and he put his money where his mouth was.”

Beyond his foundation work, Mr. Walton separately donated heavily to promote vouchers and charters, backing political action committees, candidates, and ballot initiatives….

John T. “Jack” Walton in 1998

Never so much, however, as when the Estate of John T. Walton (deceased) ran millions of dollars through Virginia in what can fairly be described as a massive money-laundering scheme involving the biggest players in “school choice” in the land to hide their fingerprints in the 2006 November election.

Did you know that he’s currently the 17th biggest political donor in Virginia (or, if you take out Republican and Democratic party instrumentalities, like the RNC, the DNC, the RSCC and DSCC, he’s the fourth largest political donor in Virginia) from 1996 to 2011?  Or that he only ever made three contributions in Virginia?

While he was alive, he donated $50,000 in 2001 for “[Mark] Earley for Governor” and, in 2006, the Estate of Dead John T. Walton (deceased) made two donations totaling $4,151,750 to something called “All Children Matter.”

This made the Koch Industries’ October 18, 2005 donation to that same Virginia Political Committee seem trifling, at a plebian $75,000.

But, the Kochs were doing what all of their affiliates seem to do: targeting whenever the donation would be most timely, or most invisible, or both.

ii. The Craniacs Embrace the Republican Party


I’ve told you the tale of the Craniacs of the old Libertarian Party of the 1980s. How the same people who ran the Ed Clark for President and David Koch for Vice President have somehow all managed to stay in close coordination, recruiting Paul Jacob, and then Chris Kliesmet along the way. And I’ve told you who Eric O’Keefe was, although I haven’t explained his ties to “School Choice” yet.

But there is a sort of “smoking gun” I want you to read, because I think it’s the missing piece of the puzzle that makes the whole thing suddenly form a picture, while the puzzle is by no means completely filled in.

Ronald Reagan crushed the Libertarian Party’s Clark/Koch ticket. Many Libertarians of the time blamed the “Crane Machine” for the dreadful showing that the Howie Rich bunch had effected. Murray Rothbard wrote an amazing piece in retrospect, naming all the “Craniacs” in the old Libertarian Forum, which is authoritative, not because he is an unbiased observer with a deep enmity towards Koch and Crane, but because he COULDN’T have possibly known that he was naming virtually ALL of the political players in the current multi-state machine that they’ve been patiently building for many years.

Eight years later, the Crane Machine had infamously walked out of the National Libertarian Party Convention in New York City en masse, and formed their own, separate political organization(s).  It is as Murray Rothbard — the pre-eminant “Austrian School” economist in the Known Universe, arguably, was writing his long, brilliant — and today, debunking of the whole Reagan Myth – post-mortem analysis of Reagan’s presidency from a Libertarian perspective that Eric O’Keefe writes a letter to the editor, which Rothbard publishes in his Liberty Magazine, March 1989 issue:

Eric O’Keefe at Tea Party Patriots summit in Phoenix last week

Mere Lines on a Ballot

Justin Raimondo’s analysis of the futility of the Libertarian Party (“Assessing Campaign ’88,” Liberty, Jan 1989), and third party efforts in general, is right on
the mark. A few years ago I researched the history of political parties in America, and reached the same conclusions. That was after I had spent three
years working on Libertarian Party campaigns. Oh, well.

There’s a solid legal reason behind the persistent failure of third parties in this century. “Progressive” era reforms of election laws in effect nationalized the major political parties late in the last century. The parties are defined and controlled by various state and federal legislation.

The major parties are not private organizations. They cannot exclude anyone, fascist, communist, or ignoramus from running under their ballot labels. The parties are not “parties” at all; they are state-controlled lines on a ballot.

Should any third party gain “major party” status, which requires 5% of the vote in many states, that party will also be taken over by the state. It will no longer be able to control what candidates run under its banner. So if the Libertarian Party dodges its likely death by failure, it faces death by success.

There is no reason why a serious candidate should put the millstone of a third party around his neck when he can espouse the same ideas while running on a major party ballot line.

Eric O’Keefe
Cottage Grove, Wis.

In 2010,  O’Keefe couldn’t help but crowing about what would prove to be the Tea Party’s recipe for success:

Since many districts are essentially one-party districts, those primary elections determine the winner in most general elections. This situation gives an especially loud voice to primary voters who are engaged and organized around any candidate. Just ask the tea partiers who backed Rand Paul in Kentucky, where even in a much-hyped primary, only about one-third of registered Republicans showed up at the polls…

- from an Op-Ed in the Sacramento Bee [California], June 6, 2010, one day before the 2010 California Primary.

And there you have the seeds of how the Republican Party found itself taken over by successive waves of politically extreme forces. From one of its architects. Interesting side note:  the Libertarian nominee for President in 1988? Ron Paul, who was at that Tea Party Patriots convocation in Phoenix last weekend:

Ron Paul at Phoenix Tea Party “summit” last week

By 1988, the “Crane Machine” was gone from the LP. by 1996, Ron Paul would be re-elected to Congress as a Republican and would become a member of the “Republican Liberty Caucus, whose membership basically represents Libertarians in Republicans’ clothing.  Some members? Pat Toomey, Jim DeMint, Nikki Haley, Steve Chabot, Jeff Flake, etc.

The “Liberty Caucus” was founded in 1991, and, as O’Keefe had written, represented old-line Libertarian positions without having to waste their time in Third-Party ballot drives.

But this, like most avenues of investigation simply sends us down another series of rabbit holes. Confusion is a great way to keep what you’re up to hidden from the light of public scrutiny, and complexity is the best possible manner to hide a story from a generally superficial media. Case in point?

In all of the coverage that the Koch brothers have receives in the past two months, only TWO pictures are ever generally used. If this were Robert Downey Junior or Lindsay Lohan and they WANTED to keep out of the public spotlight, don’t you think that our paparazzi would still manage to snap photos of them? But nobody has come up with any photos of the Koch Brothers other than this one:

But that brings us back to Foster Friess, John T. Walton and the Kochs.

And “All Children Matter,” which the Estate of John T. Walton (deceased) managed to put in the upper eschelons of donors to Virginia Political Committees. But none of the money was ever spent in Virginia…

iii. A Tale of Florida and of Wisconsin

I want to take you back in time, to a Wisconsin story out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Journal-Times,  via Sandlapper at Daily Kos on  January 11, 2007:

Now, I’m not as familiar with ACM as I’ve become with ALG – I’ve been Googling the latter for a few months now – but I mentioned this Wisconsin business first herehttp://www.dailykos.com/… and Google has already helped out a good bit since then. Let’s recap the story.

Reporter Paul Sloth told us here http://www.journaltimes.com/… [The Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal-Times; note, link doesn't work in 2011]

“A group of residents and local unions… filed a complaint with the State Elections Board claiming the Michigan-based school choice group All Children Matter violated Wisconsin state law. The complaint alleges the group broke state elections law by advocating against a candidate in a local state Senate race without properly registering with the State Elections Board. The complaint stems from a direct mail flier sent to residents in the 21st Senate District urging them to ‘vote against’ Rep. John Lehman in his campaign for the Senate seat against Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds.”

So All Children Matter – ACM – is based in Michigan but sent mail to voters in Wisconsin hoping to affect the outcome of a legislative race. And apparently, because they clearly advocated for Rep. John Lehman’s defeat, they were acting as a political action committee and therefore were subject to laws governing PACs in Wisconsin. Okay, clear enough to me so far.

Sloth continued,

“Milwaukee attorney Richard Saks, who represents the group filing the complaint, said All Children Matter registered as a non-resident political committee with the Secretary of State, but did not register with the State Elections Board as a political action committee. The group filing the complaint contends that the ad constitutes express advocacy, which triggers all the state’s statutory obligations. Once a political group engages in express advocacy, they have to comply with the state’s election laws for political committees requiring disclosure of who they are, where they get their money and how they’re spending their money.”

Aha. So while they dotted one I, they didn’t cross the other T, and the T was just as important under Wisconsin law as the I.

Is anyone else curious about why a Michigan-based organization is playing ball in Wisconsin’s politics? Do they purport to be a national outfit, a la Howie Rich’s Americans for Limited Government?

At any rate, since they didn’t register as a PAC in Wisconsin but sent out political mail in that state, they broke the law there. As I said in December, an eight-year-old could get this.

And Sloth explained further,

Michigan billionaire Dick DeVos formed All Children Matter in 2003. DeVos did so to promote private school voucher programs – commonly known as school choice – like the one in Milwaukee, according to the nonpartisan watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, an advocacy group that tracks spending in state elections. All Children Matter works with the Wisconsin pro-(school) choice group known as the Alliance for Choices in Education, headed by George and Susan Mitchell of Milwaukee.

Again, endless names and money shuffling.

Sandlapper continues:

See, it’s coming back to me now; reporter Jennie Tunkieicz gave her account herehttp://www.jsonline.com/… informing us that ACM has a state committee in Virginia just like Rich’s ALG does, and that the complaint filed against ACM included its “VA State Political Action Committee.”

As I said, All Children Matter was running cash through Virginia in 2006. Why? To get around disclosure, it appears. According to the St. Petersburg Times [Florida] :

Florida’s top campaign donors
By CONNIE HUMBURG and JONI JAMES
Published November 3, 2006

John Walton died last year, crashing his experimental aircraft near his home in Montana. [sic]

But that hasn’t kept him from being one of the major political donors in Florida’s elections this year.

The estate of Walton, one of the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, has funneled more than $2-million this year into a group that favors private school vouchers and that is playing a role in 15 Florida legislative races, including two hard-fought campaigns for state Senate seats in the Tampa Bay area.

The largesse of Walton’s estate ranks near the top of 14 entities that have contributed at least $1-million over the past two years in local and state elections, mostly in anticipation of Tuesday’s election, according to a St. Petersburg Times analysis of state campaign finance reports through Oct. 21.

[...]

The money from Walton’s estate flowed solely to a pro-voucher group, All Children Matter, which wants to ensure Florida continues allowing corporations to earmark income tax dollars for a voucher program for low-income children.

The group also is a major advocate of restoring, possibly through a future state constitutional amendment, vouchers for children from public schools deemed to be failing. The Florida Supreme Court struck down that program in January.

The impact of Walton’s money has been evident in Tampa Bay, where All Children Matter has spent thousands in a pair of state Senate races. The group has mailed fliers bashing St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Justice to help Clearwater Republican Kim Berfield; and it bought television ads to support Brandon Republican Ronda Storms over Plant City Democrat Stephen Gorham.

“We hope to see elected legislators who support school choice for low-income families,” said John Kirtley of Tampa, chairman of All Children Matter. “We don’t care what party they’re from.” [...]

And, in Florida, the subterfuge was noted, during that election campaign. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch notes:

  • In the summer of 2004, the estate of Wal-Mart heir John Walton donated more than $2 million to All Children Matter-Virginia, which, according to the Virginia Public Access Project promptly funneled money to an affiliate group in Florida. The Florida group then spent that money to support pro-voucher candidates in the state, without having to disclose the individuals who donated it. Relevantdisclosure forms for the Florida groups will show only that money came in from All Children Matter-Virginia, with no disclosure of a connection to the Walton family. All Children Matter-Virginia appears to be the centerpiece of this scheme. ACM-VA is seeing an unprecedented cash flow even though it can only spend money in Virginia on state races and there are none in 2006. ACM-VA acts a conduit to stealthfully distribute money to other states.
  • According to campaign finance records, just before the 2006 primary elections in Missouri, businessman and financial analyst Rex Sinquefield donated $100,000 to an All Children Matter affiliate in that state, which in turn spent the entire sum in the eight days leading up to the election on behalf of only five pro-voucher candidates. All Children Matter enabled Sinquefield to donate much more to each of these candidates than would have been legal had he given money directly to their campaigns.
  • In a 2006 Colorado primary, ACM began pouring thousands of dollars into one race in the form of direct mail and advertisements to support a pro-voucher state incumbent who was far behind his opponent in fundraising.

But what does this have to do with Wisconsin?

Good question. According to the Virginia records, along with Dead John Walton’s $4 million plus:

All receipts reported by All Children Matter
from Alliance for School Choices in Education
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Contributions Totaling $92,000

Amount Date Description
$90,000 09/29/2006 Itemized cash contribution
$2,000 03/16/2005 Itemized cash contribution

OK. But why’s that important? Well, when we look at the cash disbursements from the shell Political Committee in Virginia, we see that money coming BACK to Wisconsin via “All Children Matter” AFTER the the last financial reporting date in the Wisconsin general election, October 27 and October 30, 2006.

Results from the State Board of Elections WWW server, at 4:52:48 PM(eastern) on 3/2/2011 , Page 13 OF 26

Report Code Person or Company Paid Mailing Address of Payee Item Or Service Name of Person Authorising Expenditure Date of Expenditure Amount Paid
JANP16_07 All Children Matter-Wisconsin 228 S. Washington Street Suite 115 – Alexandria – VA – 22314 Political Contribution Greg Brock 10/27/2006 35000
JANP16_07 Paychex 3351 Clayston Ave. Suite 100 – Grand Rapids – MI – 49546 Payroll Taxes Greg Brock 10/27/2006 3467.14
JANP16_07 All Children Matter-Ohio PAC 88 East Broad St. Ste. 1320 – Columbus – OH – 43215 Political Contribution Greg Brock 10/27/2006 100000
JANP16_07 Macatawa Bank 51 East Main St. – Zeeland – MI – 49464 Bank Fee Greg Brock 10/27/2006 20
JANP16_07 Goote Chad 1929 Lotus Ave. – Grand Rapids – MI – 49506 Travel Greg Brock 10/30/2006 56
JANP16_07 Arizona Capitol Times Subscription Services 41 West Street – Boston – MA – 02111 Subscription Greg Brock 10/30/2006 99
JANP16_07 All Children Matter-Wisconsin 228 S. Washington Street Suite 115 – Alexandria – VA – 22314 Political Contribution Greg Brock 10/30/2006 12000
JANP16_07 Culligan/Kaats Water Conditioning Inc. 2988 Clydon Ave. SW – Wyoming – MI – 49509 Office Supplies Greg Brock 10/30/2006 11
JANP16_07 Grand Rapids Parking Services PO Box 1968 – Grand Rapids – MI – 49501 Parking Greg Brock 10/30/2006 543

Here are the relevant lines (squeezed):

All Children Matter-Wisconsin
228 S. Washington Street Suite 115 -
Alexandria – VA -22314
Political Contribution
[Authorized by] Greg Brock
10/27/2006 $35,000

All Children Matter-Wisconsin
228 S. Washington Street Suite 115
Alexandria – VA – 22314
Political Contribution
[Authorized by] Greg Brock
10/30/2006 $12,000

And here’s an entry from the same page, just so you know it wasn’t just Wisconsin:

All Children Matter-Ohio PAC
88 East Broad St. Ste. 1320 -
Columbus – OH – 43215
Political Contribution
[Authorized by] Greg Brock
10/27/2006  $100,000

Of the $92,000 Alliance for School Choice, Wisconsin has sent to Virginia, $ 47,000 comes back to All Children Matter, Wisconsin to spend facelessly on candidates who back ACM’s (and, presumably ASC’s) political agenda.

In Florida, the faceless spending topped $7 million. The Florida reporter who reported $2 million from dead John Walton literally didn’t know the half of it, or $4,151,750, to be precise.

Those names are going to come in handy later.

As Right Wing Watch concludes:

The All Children Matter network receives large amounts of funding from a small group of ultra-wealthy donors. These donors include Dick DeVos and other members of his family, the estate of Wall-Mart heir John Walton, JC Huizenga, Ted Forstman, Dino Cortopassi, John D. Bryan, Joseph Robert, Jr., Peter Flannigan, Richard Gilder, Rick Sharp, Roger Hertog, Virginia Manheimer, and Bruce Kovner.

“I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.” – Betsy DeVos (Roll Call, 1997)

All Children Matter was eventually caught in Wisconsin, and forced to pay a $5 million dollar fine. One Wisconsin reported:

All Children Matter Long Overdue for a Penalty on 2006 Election Law Violations – 9/25/2008
DeVos, Wal-Mart Financed Group Hit with $5 Million Fine in April for Illegally Funneling Money to Ohio Campaigns

Milwaukee – One Wisconsin Now is calling on the Government Accountability Board to act on the recommendations of the former State Elections Board and penalize All Children Matter for violating Wisconsin election laws in 2006. The Election Board ruled in 2007 that All Children Matter broke the law, but the pro-private school vouchers group hit with a stunning $5.2 million fine in Ohio this April for illegal money funneling has yet to be punished by the GAB.

“All Children Matter must at long last be held accountable for its activities,” said Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now, referring to All Children Matter’s newest attack campaign. “All Children Matter remains under investigation for breaking the law here and it’s time the Government Accountability Board get to the bottom of their activities during the last election cycle.”

All Children Matter remains under investigation in Wisconsin after the State Elections Board determined in November 2006 it violated rules about express advocacy in opposing John Lehman’s bid for the State Senate. A mailing by All Children Matter prompted a complaint by the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Care Professionals and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. The former Elections Board agreed that All Children Matter violated campaign laws for failing to register with the state prior to the $35,000 it spent directly advocating against Lehman.

Gee, do you suppose THAT was the $35,000 donation from Virginia to Wisconsin on October 27, 2006?

… In April, All Children Matter was leveled with a $5.2 million fine for illegally funneling money into Ohio campaigns. In its 5-0 decision, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled that All Children Matter illegally funneled $870,000 to Ohio through a Virginia PAC, allowing it to exceed the state’s $10,000 limit on PAC contributions. Similar allegations have been made about the organization’s actions in Wisconsin.

All Children Matter is affiliated with Alliance for Choices in Education (also involved in the Wisconsin Elections Board investigation), run by Wisconsin’s George and Susan Mitchell, who have donated thousands of dollars to Wisconsin political candidates. Its network of affiliated groups includes the Alliance for School Choice, which has employed convicted former Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen.

In addition to Wisconsin and Ohio, complaints have previously been filed against All Children Matter in Colorado and Florida. More information about All Children Matter and its giving history to Wisconsin elected officials is available at One Wisconsin Now’s http://www.AllCashMatters.org.

Later Wisconsin would fine All Children Matter, as well.

All Children Matter gets $500 fine after 19 months
By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel

Oct. 2, 2009

Madison — A 19-month-long investigation by campaign finance regulators has resulted in a routine $500 forfeiture.

Strict laws limiting their ability to speak publicly about their work prevented officials with the Government Accountability Board from explaining why the investigation took so long.

“Laws enacted by the Legislature could possibly put us in legal trouble if we discuss this any further,” said board spokesman Reid Magney. “Our hands are tied as to what more we can say.”

The board recently reached a settlement with All Children Matter that says the group was late to register its political action committee with the board. For that, it is paying the state $500.

The settlement was reached in May but not publicly released this week…

[Note: The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed ACM's appeal and upheld the $5.2 million fine in June of 2010.]

And they had been doing the same sort of thing before. Here’s a skeleton in former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s presidential closet:

PAC BACKING HUNTSMAN
THE PRO-TUITION VOUCHER GROUP VOUCHING FOR HIM
Deseret Morning News – By Jennifer Toomer Cook [10/26/2004]

“A pro-tuition-tax-credit PAC is independently bankrolling ads supporting GOP gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., who has refused to accept donations from special-interest groups so he’s not beholden to anyone if elected.

The Parents for Choice in Education PAC over the weekend launched radio ads supporting Huntsman, who the PAC says will give public schools resources to improve and give parents more school choices.

Ads cite Huntsman’s support of the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship, a bill vetoed by Gov. Olene Walker that would have given government vouchers for the private schooling of disabled children.

Huntsman also backs “a limited, means-tested tuition tax credit,” campaign manager Jason Chaffetz has said.

The ads are airing on KSL Radio and other stations, Parents for Choice executive director Elisa Clements Peterson said Monday. She did not disclose their cost but said state PAC reports are due today.

The PAC spent $17,000 on the KSL Radio ads alone, the station reports.

“This isn’t a contribution to his campaign,” Peterson said. “We want to make sure voters understand where he is on education. . . . We want to make sure he wins.”

[...]

Parents for Choice is a Utah PAC with national donors. More than half of its $187,500 in contributions this year came from the Alexandria, Va.-based All Children Matter, according to Sept. 15 PAC reports. All Children Matter supports candidates who have “principles of school choice most appropriate for their respective state,” according to its Web site….

Oddly, I pulled this item off of All Children Matter’s website, which catalogs ALL their press, good and bad, it seems.

But I’ve strung you along long enough. I am going to show you those 2006 donors, and then an amazing coincidence how MANY of them showed up at the Koch Brothers Aspen, Colorado meeting last year, that ThinkProgress released the guest list of, and the New York Times first reported. The piece begins:

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

Here are the Virginia Donations to All Children Matter in 2005-2007:

Amount Name Location
$4,151,750 John Walton Bentonville, AR
$500,000 Advocates for School Choice Phoenix, AZ
$500,000 Bruce Kovner New York, NY
$500,000 Bill Oberndorf Mill Valley, CA
$500,000 Julian H Robertson, Jr New York, NY
$350,000 Virgina Manheimer Lambertville, NJ
$260,000 Betsy DeVos Grand Rapids, MI
$250,000 Robert Kern Waukesha, WI
$250,000 Richard L “Rick” Sharp Henrico
$150,000 David Brennan Akron, OH
$150,000 Dino Cortopassi Stockton, CA
$135,000 John Fisher San Francisco, CA
$125,000 Peter Flanigan New York, NY
$100,000 Bruce D Benson Denver, CO
$100,000 Foster Friess Jackson, WY
$100,000 Riverstone Group LLC Richmond
$92,000 Alliance for School Choices in Education Milwaukee, WI
$75,000 John Bryan Lake Oswego, OR
$75,000 Koch Industries Inc North Wichita, KS
$70,000 Roger Hertog New York, NY
$50,000 Richard Gilder New York, NY
$50,000 Marcia Kern Peterson Waukesha, WI
$50,000 Joseph E Robert, Jr McLean
$30,000 Lovett Peters Chestnut Hill, MA
$25,000 Helen DeVos Lantana, FL
$25,000 J C Huizenga Grand Rapids, MI
$20,000 Lawrence J DeGeorge Jupiter, FL
$15,000 Ted Forstmann New York, NY
$12,500 Richard DeVos Lantana, FL
$12,500 Richard Devos, Jr Grand Rapids, MI
$10,000 Frank Baxter Los Angeles, CA
$10,000 William J Hume San Francisco, CA
$10,000 William Simon Pacific Palisades, CA
$9,500 Paul Henkels Blue Bell, PA
$5,000 Jim Blew Valencia, CA
$5,000 Republican State Leadership Committee Alexandria
$2,500 Lewis M Eisenberg Rumson, NJ
$2,000 Evelyn Holtzman Palm Beach, FL
$1,000 Chase Investment Council Corp Charlottesville
$1,000 Thomas N Chewning Richmond
$1,000 Kevin L Gentry Fairfax
$500 Whitney Tilson New York, NY
$-72,042 All Children Matter Alexandria

And here are those on that list who were present at the Koch Brothers little political strategy planning shindig in Aspen, Colorado according to their guest list, obtained by ThinkProgress:

St. Regis Resort, Aspen, Colorado

  • Charles and Liz Koch Koch Industries
    Chase and Annie Koch Koch Industries
    David and Julia Koch Koch Industries
    Elizabeth Koch Koch Industries
    Bob and Cindy Koch Koch Industries
  • A family affair.
  • Foster Friess Investment Mr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC
    Steve and Polly Friess
  • Note, Steve and Polly weren’t ACM Virginia donors, but they ARE Foster’s son and wife
  • Rich and Helen DeVos Business Founder and CEO of Amway
  • Dino and Joan Cortopassi
  • John Bryan
  • Dan and Kellie Peters Non-for Profit Daniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Rick and Sherry Sharp Retail Former CEO, Circuit City
  • John Bryan
  • Frank and Kathy Baxter Banking Ambassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.
  • Bill and Sarah Walton Real Estate Allied Capital Corp
  • Representing the Waltons of which John T. Walton’s estate may or may not have been in attendance.
  • And, attending, but not a contributor to the 2006 All Children Matter slush fund (although he had a separate organization, seemingly doing the same work)
  • Eric O’Keefe Front Group Sam Adams Alliance

St Regis Resort, Aspen, Colorado
“Where the discreet Elite meet to plot and fete”

Now, you’d think that Children in Charge would change their names or something. Well, not much. Now, it’s the Alliance for School Choice. Here’s the current Board of Directors, as listed on their webpage (RED boldface indicates 2006 contributor of $125,00 or more):

Betsy DeVos
Chairman

John F. Kirtley
Vice Chairman

The Hon. Kevin P. Chavous

Boykin Curry

Peter Flanigan

Joel Greenberg

Bill Oberndorf

Carrie Penner

And here they are in 2006:

Alliance for School Choice – BOARD OF DIRECTORS

William Oberndorf, Chairman
SPO Partners

John Kirtley, Vice Chairman
Florida Education Freedom Foundation

Clint Bolick, President and General Counsel*
Alliance for School Choice

* Bolick was in charge of SPENDING the cash collected in 2006.

Robert Aguirre
Robert Aguirre Consultants

Cory Booker
Booker Team for Newark

David Brennan
White Hat Management

Anthony Colón
Fight for Children

Robert Cone
Athlon LLC

Dean (Dino) Cortopassi
Cortopassi Institute

R. Boykin Curry
Eagle Capital Management

John Fisher
Pisces, Inc.

Peter Flanigan
UBS Securities, LLC

Stephen Friess*
Jackson Hole Institute

* Foster’s kid

Rebeca Nieves Huffman
Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options

William J. Hume (Jerry)
Basic American Foods

Susan Mitchell
School Choice Wisconsin

Joseph E. Robert, Jr.
J.E. Robert Companies

Richard Sharp
Carmax, Inc.

J. Peter Simon
William E. Simon & Sons

John Walton, Director Emeritus*

* e.g. “dead”

Advocates for School Choice – BOARD OF DIRECTORS

William Oberndorf, Chairman
SPO Partners

John Kirtley, Vice Chairman
Florida Education Freedom Foundation

Clint Bolick, President and General Counsel
Alliance for School Choice

Alex Cranberg
Aspect Resources, LLC

Betsy DeVos
The Windquest Group, Inc.

Howard Fuller
Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University

Steve Schuck
Schuck Corporation

John Walton, Director Emeritus

Now, there are some other names that spring to light. Richard Gilder is on the Board of Directors of Club for Growth, and Virginia Manheimer, who, in addition to being president of her own “Hickory Foundation” underwrote the “Culture and Media Institute” for Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center for $500k and sat on its board in 2006.

Bozell at the Tea Party Patriots in Phoenix last week

Bozell’s various “charitable” groups include the Culture and Media Institute, who provide instant Dan Quayle “Murphy Brown”-style petty bourgeois analysis of anything that doesn’t reflect their “cultural values” in media, and NewsBusters blog “Exposing and Combating Liberal Bias in the Media” who snark on all stories of the day in a most UN-“non-partisan” manner in return for their 501(c)(3) fully tax-deductable “charity” designation.

Bozell at the Tea Party Patriots in Phoenix last week some more

And Alex Cranberg, a Texas oil man who represents yet another rabbit-hole that goes every whichaway from his headquarters in Colorado.

It’s hard to focus when you get down into the weeds. Incestuous? Yes. Secretive? Of course. Complicated? Intentionally so.

But you at least know that the whole “School Choice” bunch in this case is intimately tied with the Koch Machine, and, by simple and continual associations, with the old Crane Machine still being run, evidently, out of the Cato Institute.

Ed Crane

But let’s take a minute to look at Wisconsonite Eric O’Keefe and his role in the 2006 “School Choice” campaign — not to push any initiatives, but, rather, to cynically target and promote political candidates in key races. Here’s the list of Wisconsin races that the All Children Matter donors tried to affect in 2006:

And that wasn’t all that they gave. According to One Wisconsin Now:

The list of All Children Matter’s Top Donors and the money they gave to Wisconsin legislators’ campaign accounts are:

Jim and John Walton, Bentonville, Arkansas
$6.4 million to All Children Matter
97 Legislative Contributions Totaling $29,100

Dick and Betsy DeVos, Grand Rapids, Michigan
$2.8 million to All Children Matter
79 Legislative Contributions Totaling $11,330

Bill Oberndorf, San Francisco, California
$600,000 to All Children Matter
76 Legislative Contributions Totaling $17,650

Virginia Manheimer, Lambertville, New Jersey
$400,000 to All Children Matter
5 Legislative Contributions Totaling $1,700

Richard Sharp, Richmond, Virginia
$200,000 to All Children Matter
75 Legislative Contributions Totaling $18,075

David Brennan, Akron, Ohio
$200,000 to All Children Matter
2 Legislative Contributions Totaling $1,000

John Kirtley, Tampa, Florida
$100,000 to All Children Matter
6 Legislative Contributions Totaling $2,200

John Fisher, San Francisco, California
$85,000 to All Children Matter
54 Legislative Contributions Totaling $13,625

George and Susan Mitchell, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
$64,000 to All Children Matter
137 Legislative Contributions Totaling $30,975

Jerry Hume, San Francisco, California
$10,000 to All Children Matter
8 Legislative Contributions Totaling $3,800

With the exception of George and Susan Mitchell, none were FROM Wisconsin.

This is a very odd group: believers in “term limits” they refuse to limit their seemingly endless self-appointed terms as “kingmakers.” Strenuous advocates of “states’ rights” they feel free to meddle in any state that amuses them. Screamers for government transparency, they hide behind an endless series of “fictitious business names” and “charitable” foundations to hide their money from the voters and from the tax collectors.

In 2001, Eric was hanging out with his old buddies from the Clark/Koch campaign, Cato Foundation and U.S. Term Limits when they founded a twin-headed “school choice” foundation called “Parents In Charge Foundation” and “Legislative Education Action Drive.” (Same organization, different tax circumstances to exploit.)

But take a look at this “about this” from the Parents In Charge Foundation’s webpage:

About Us

The Parents in Charge Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization dedicated to the study of choice in education. Founded in March 2001 by Howard Rich, Eric O’Keefe and Bill Wilson, the Foundation studies the impact of various choice plans on the quality and delivery of education, and the political implications of such plans. The Foundation gathers and publicizes data about parental views of public and independent schools, the performance of public and independent schools, and the impact of reforms implemented in various states and counties.

Now, as has been noted in “Who Is Behind Wisconsin Club For Growth?” Eric and Howie are old pals. (And Bill Wilson has been at their side for a long time, as well. He’s currently “President” of Americans for Limited Government, as his regular ghost-written press releases so lovingly note.)

Parents In Charge Board of Directors in 2005

In 2005, with a wildly uneven financial picture before and after, PIC received over $8 million to play with for “school choice.” That was when Eric O’Keefe was the President of the Parents in Charge Foundation, along with Frayda Levy, who currently sits on the board of Koch-founded (and funded) Americans for Prosperity and was a guest at that Aspen, Colorado Koch Brothers wing-ding, as well.

Now, mysteriously, the 2006 Parents In Charge publicly available 990 isn’t available from any of the sources I get them from, with a nice hole between 2005 and 2007’s tax return, but we can figure out how much money was spent in much the same manner as All Children Matter did. At the end of 2005, of the $8,246,310 received, PIC still had $5,444,290 on hand for 2006.

Now, according to their 2007 tax return, they had $199,514 on hand, and had received an additional $350,500 (which sort of indicates that their source of funding wasn’t hard working folks chipping in little donations at the grass-roots level) in donations in 2006. And five Board Members were gone, including Eric O’Keefe.

Parents In Charge Board in 2007

Which means, for 2006, that missing tax year, in order to further the “school choice” agenda, Parents In Charge spent $5,595,276.

Koch money? Dead John Walton money?

Who knows? (Which is the point.) But that’s a LOT of money to be spending on “School choice” in a year in which there were no school choice ballot measures or referenda, but only local candidates to target. Stealthily.

Now, when you look at the interconnectedness in all these groups (the endless and incestuous connections — I have omitted the great majority for clarity’s sake, and there are STILL a bewildering number just in this story, granted), and their bought and paid for agendas, is it any wonder that they’re going after teachers and teachers’ unions?

They’re the ones standing in the way of what seems to be an attempt to not merely destroy free public education in Wisconsin, but to then turn around and have taxpayers foot the bill for PRIVATE education, over which school boards and elected representatives have minimal say.

Which is what I like to call an honest-to-gosh culture war in the real sense:

The owners versus the plantation workers.

Even, as I’ve shown you, the DEAD owners.

Wreckage of John T. Walton’s aircraft
at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

And that ought to be more than just a little scary.

Because it’s a culture war that 99% of us can’t afford to lose.

Wisconsin Club For Growth Board Of Directors 2009

But let’s finish with another little Wisconsin connection.  Remember that Eric O’Keefe is a founder and director of Wisconsin Club for Growth, when not running “scho0l choice,” and “term limits” and “eminent domain” and “spending cap” (or TABOR) ballot campaigns. From yesterday’s Journal-Sentinel:

Discipline for senators

[...]

Oconto County Circuit Judge Jay N. Conley ruled Wednesday that Holperin appears to be violating a rule that requires senators to attend sessions. But he wrote that it is the Senate – not the courts – that enforce those rules.

“The Senate must enforce Senate rules, if it chooses to do so. It can, also, ignore its own rules, if it chooses to do so,” Conley wrote.

The case was filed Tuesday by Kevin Barthel, a constituent of Holperin’s who lives in Lakewood, and is being financed in part by the Wisconsin Club for Growth. R.J. Johnson, who served as a political strategist for Walker’s campaign, is a key adviser to the Club for Growth.

Yeah. So, don’t get the idea that Governor Scott Walker’s agenda and Eric O’Keefe’s demonstrated agenda are linked in any way.

And, one other tidbit:

You might recall that George and Susan Mitchell of All Children Matter donated about $100,000 in Wisconsin directly and (see above) through the Virginia money-laundering operation, All Children Matter (who moved to Michigan in 2007). Here’s something ripped from today’s headlines:

Conservatives try to halt public funding of court race
By Larry Sandler of the [Milwaukee, Wisc.] Journal Sentinel
Feb. 9, 2011

Conservative forces are asking a federal judge to block public funding of the state Supreme Court race before the April 5 general election.

Wisconsin Right to Life, joined by the Wisconsin Center for Economic Prosperity and school choice activist George Mitchell, are seeking an injunction to halt the public financing process for this election. U.S. District Judge William Conley has set a hearing on the motion for March 2 in Madison.

The trio previously filed a lawsuit seeking to permanently overturn the court campaign finance law, which they claim is an unconstitutional restriction on their freedom of speech. James Bopp, the plaintiffs’ Indiana attorney, said that case had been moving slowly and “we just can’t wait any longer.” [...]

Yeah. “Freedom of speech,” in the context of slushing millions of dollars in such a way that nobody can find out where it came from until AFTER the elections? THAT kind of Freedom of Speech? The one, demonstrably, that Mitchell has been involved with before?

Hmmm. Given Wisconsin Club for Growth’s attempt to insert itself into the judical elections, I can’t help but be reminded of this Journal Sentinel piece quoted by Sandlapper in Daily Kos in 2006 (ibid.):

This part is especially funny: nobody knows nothin’, and they pass the hot potato to the next fella: “All Children Matter attorney Kevin St. John, of Madison, said he had not seen the latest complaint and had no immediate comment. George Mitchell, director of the Wisconsin arm of the group, referred questions to All Children Matter executive director Greg Brock in Grand Rapids, Mich. Brock did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages seeking comment. The Wisconsin president of ACE, Susan Mitchell, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the phones. The Wisconsin president of ACE is Susan Mitchell. Meanwhile, the spokesman for Dick DeVos and ACM-WI is George Mitchell. Coincidence? Or are they family? If they’re family, I smell a rat, and it reminds me of another husband-wife arrangement that draws even MORE comparisons to Howie Rich and ALG. If memory serves, ALG’s chairman was Eric O’Keefe when a $1.4 million contribution was given by ALG to ALG’s little state-based partner in Nebraska, who then paid that $1.4 million to Leslie Graves and her Renewal Voter Outreach to run the petition-circulation operation in Nebraska for Rich’s TABOR there. In fact, the arrangement was so peculiarly cute that fellow blogger Hart Williams wondered if O’Keefe delivered the check to Graves across their [marital] bed.

I could be completely off-base, but Google hasn’t told me yet whether George Mitchell of ACM and Susan Mitchell of ACE are kindred. I’ll keep asking.

Well, Sandlapper, they are. Sorry to be so late in getting back to you on that question.

as cupid’s arrow strikes

Cozier and cozier, but at least some of these operatives are LITERALLY in bed together.

Which is a comfort.

Because some of the others are dead. And that’s creepy.

Courage.

=========================

[H(e)arty vorpal thanks to Michael J.W. Stickings of The Reaction, handling Mike's Blog Roundup chores, for the link today.]

Read the Complete Foster Friess series in order.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “They’re Going After The Wisconsin Teachers

  1. Pingback: They’re Going After Public Education | his vorpal sword

  2. A citizenry that receives a good education might vote against the plutocracy…

    • You raise not merely a witty point, Batocchio, but a profound one: demonstrably, this is a “long twilight” struggle, and controlling education is an important way of cementing one’s agenda in impressionable young minds. These have been at this for YEARS. Now, they think the time is ripe, as the attack is unleashed on all fronts, simultaneously.

  3. Dan Tomkinson

    They prefer to build a nation of janitors.

  4. Dan Tomkinson

    A fascinating read from Murray Rothbard. I used to be on the Mises institute mailing list, was very wonkish and there was a lot I didn’t buy into. I hold strong social libertarian views but in terms of governance, I see a strong social fabric and safety net as critical to a healthy nation and investment that pays the nation back in diamonds in the form of a highly productive citizenry.

    As a young military man, I voted for Reagan twice. As an adult, I realize how badly we were sold down the river by him. And the assertion Mr Rothbard makes of Reagan as an unwitting stooge, a place holder, makes perfect sense now, in perspective.

    I share a lot of what you write (among others) on FB, and I have conservative friends who keep countering with…”But Both Sides Do it”. Well, yeah, kinda. But nowhere on the same scale or with the same degree of intentional deception. And if Dems advocated these positions, they’d get to backing too. These people aren’t about party. It ain’t Red vs Blue. This is about ideology only. An ideology of power that has no sense of morality or duty to either nation or God.

    • Thank you Dan. I think Rothbard’s take on Reagan is pretty accurate (taking his ideological position into account). The thing that no one anticipated is that an army of scholars would be hired to backfill his reputation. I lived through the Reagan years, and the idolatry I hear today always makes me wonder: “Were you even THERE?”

      I think that in many ways, we are, right now, in the most dangerous times for that “Government of the people, by the people and for the people” that Lincoln invoked at the Gettysburg national cemetery dedication as we were when he invoked it. Thanks again for your support, Dan.

      [NOTE: The Reagan post-mortem is HERE.]

  5. Gramma

    So we end up with vouchers, and do away with public schools, can there be that much money in private schools to justify all these shenanigans? The question for me is how will all this pay for all the money put out. I must be awfully dense but how do they benefit?

    • @Gramma
      The benefits are varied, and somewhat counter-intuitive. I suggest that you look at Milton Friedman’s writings about “school choice,” and remember, with private schools, school segregation in America today is slightly higher than it was in 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate was NOT equal.

  6. Gramma

    Just watched a recording of Rachael Maddow, she interviewed Naomi Kline who answered my question, We are observing The Shock Doctrine, a plan for corporate takeover,,, of everything.

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