Friday, September 28, 2007

Follow the money...if you can find it

In this morning's Deseret News, Bob Bernick had an interesting story about the voucher fight. He did a very fair job of reporting on both sides of the issue.

What caught my eye was his reference to where the funds are coming from to fuel this showdown:

"But at least we know that the NEA is doing this, and we have a pretty good idea where its PAC money is coming from — public school teachers across the nation who pay PAC dues into the national education group through their local teacher union chapters.

We don't know where all of the money that Parents for Choice in Education is coming from. As reported in last Sunday's Deseret Morning News, the PCE's own PIC and PAC get some funds from the same group's corporation and nonprofit foundation..."

Precisely. Where is their money coming from? Who is giving to them and funding this effort? If you see my post yesterday this clearly is becoming a stare down between real, public school teachers and some faceless million-billionaires.

Also in yesterday's post, I wrote about Tim Draper from California who put $24 million of his own money into the 2000 voucher effort there, and Dick DeVos who put at least $5 million of his own dough into the pro-private school voucher initiative in his home state of Michigan. Are they funding the Utah effort?

Doing some research has yielded a lot of information about where PCE got its money to fund the state legislative races that eventually led to the flawed voucher bill passing the Utah House by 1 vote. Some of that information can be found on this weblog by Accountability First (I like the name) and it's interesting reading. I recommend it.

I also uncovered some other writings that lead me to believe the pro-voucher side's money might be from Michigan. Seems the "All Children Matter" PAC, headed by DeVos' wife, put a whole lot of money a whole lot of places trying to influence state legislative races, including Utah. If you want more on that, check out this weblog on the national Daily Kos site.

Yesterday, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), an extreme right-wing "think tank" bombarded the Utah media with a "guest editorial" attacking teachers for financially contributing to Utah's anti-voucher cause. You can read the rant here.

You know, it was EFF that tried to tie up Washington state teachers in the courts for many years, filing complaint after complaint because the teachers wanted to spend some money on important issues there.

At the same time EFF was railing against the Washington Education Association and its public school teachers, the Foundation itself would NOT say where its funds were from.

What? You mean, it's all right to assault teachers for wanting to have a voice, but you won't confess to which puppeteers are pulling your strings? The height of hypocrisy.

One judge noticed that hypocrisy and rebuked EFF. Washington State Supreme Court Justice Philip A. Talmadge made this withering comment in his May 2000 opinion regarding a case initiated by Evergreen against WEA when he said:

"... We know nothing about the EFF. It chooses to utilize the courts for
what may be a political agenda, and yet we know nothing regarding the
individuals or organizations who make up the EFF or provide financial
support to it. Perhaps a healthy dose of 'public disclosure' so
vigorously sought by these organizations would be usefully applied to
their own activities as well, so the public will know who supports and
funds them when they purport to be acting in the public interest."

Taking a defensive position about its funding when asked AGAIN who was donating to the group, EFF spokesman Jami Lund told the Olympian (a fine newspaper): "But even if we got our money straight from the Communist Party or the Ku Klux Klan, it doesn't mean that the things we are saying aren't true."

So, EFF joins PCE to blast teachers in Utah and around the country for pooling their small contributions to help fight the flawed voucher law that would siphon public taxpayer funds and send those monies to an unaccountable, private school system? Because teachers around the United States believe in their heart of hearts that vouchers are bad?

And yet EFF won't come clean - and PCE won't come clean - about who is funding the pro-voucher effort in Utah? Come on. It's time for them to put up or shut up.

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