Although campaign reports aren't due until the end of the month, it's pretty obvious that Parents for Choice in Education(PCE) is getting a huge influx of money from SOMEWHERE or SOMEONE. They're running a field operation (that includes lots and lots of e-mails, so watch your inbox for their spam), have increased their TV and radio ads, and generally don't seem to be as underfunded as they once claimed.
Again we ask, where is the money coming from? Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, has put plenty of his own money into PCE and the legislators' PIC. Or is Byrne tapping his friends?
We have the report from California that money was going to be diverted to the Utah voucher issue. Charles Hurth, the Missouri mystery-man behind the money in California was linked to Byrne through his failed "First Class Education" operation - a short-lived concept that went defunct in every state.
Or, is Byrne getting money out of his friends from the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation? (The Friedman Foundation exists solely to get taxpayer funds diverted from public to private schools via school vouchers.)
On the Board with Byrne are two familiar names in voucher schools: William Hume, a huge donor to the "All Children Matter" operation in Michigan, and one Howard S. Rich from New York City. (You can learn more about Howie Rich here.)
Or, is Byrne really digging deep in his own pocket to fund PCE? He certainly seems to have a lot of personal money, despite the fact that his company isn't doing well. (Please look here and here for some thorough reviews of Byrne's business dealings. I must say these are very telling and thanks to Gary Weiss and Sam Antar for the information they've posted.)
Byrne, of course, was born into a well-to-do family. He had all the privileges and connections that enabled him to get a good education, graduating from Walt Whitman High School, then Dartmouth, then Stanford.
His father, Jack, proved himself to be a very smart businessman, saving GEICO insurance from near bankruptcy. Jack also served on Boards and such for both Dartmouth and Stanford, positions that undoubtedly helped young Patrick.
Patrick Byrne has proven himself to be resilient, surviving bouts with cancer, becoming a heavyweight fighter and an expert in martial arts. He's a pilot, though he hasn't apparently flown in some time. (More later about a little incident in 1997.)
But there are also some things that are a little "odd" about Patrick. Like someone who tilts at windmills but can't even get that right. His "jihad" against the "Sith Lords" (his words, not mine) that he claims are ruining Overstock.com seems more than a little off the charts.
And, his relationship to a Col. Bo Gritz seems a little strange, too. Gritz recounts his relationship with a young Patrick Byrne in China. Seems Gritz used Patrick as an "agent" in Asia. Young Patrick sought Gritz's counsel, and later Gritz claims to have helped Patrick attain a "miraculous" recovery from his cancer. You can read Gritz's claims here, once you get past some of the religious verbiage and the rants about Ruby Ridge.
Some of these references are Patrick's early years. We will continue to explore his relationships to people, and we will see if we can figure out who - besides Patrick Byrne - is funding PCE.