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Superman advocates buying clout in Illinois legislature

Ohanian Comment: Why is Stand for Children, an Oregon non-profit dumping money into the pockets of Illinois politicos? And what does this have to do with "Waiting for Superman" and the Children's Defense Fund?

Here's a snippet from a current ad for an Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois:

The Position
Stand for Children is seeking an exceptional Illinois Executive Director to launch, lead, and scale its Illinois affiliate. Reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer, the Illinois Executive Director will start off with a committed group of financial supporters for Stand for Children̢۪s 501c3 organization and Political Action Committee, a clear strategy for electoral impact in 2010, and path to significant legislative impact in 2011.

Stand for Children keeps updating the list of political candidates to whom they'll send $50,000.

I stopped giving money to Children's Defense Fund when I found out that Marion Wright Edelman is a director of this outfit. Her son, the CEO, is paid $155,918. This is noted on Part IV Business Transaction Involving Interested Parties of the 2009 IRS filing of this outfit.

Here is an October 2010 report on Stand for Children's Colorado contributions to politicos.

When you Google "Stand for Children" and "Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," there's an explosion of hits. Take just one--Memphis: The Organizations Make a Difference page gives you the heavy hitters contributing money and influence to the Superman movie--and, in the case of Stand for Children, to a whole lot else, as Jim Broadway reveals below.

This is the kind of thing that I could pursue for days, but I'll end with just one more Memphis note from the Assocation of Fundraising Professionals, a group whose motto is Advancing philanthropy through education, training, and advocacy:

A 25th Birthday Celebration:
Look How Far We've Come!

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Holiday Inn, University of Memphis
3700 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN

Key Note [sic] Presenters:

  • Colleen Oliver, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Kenya Bradshaw, Stand for Children and a representative of Memphis City Schools

  • Current AFP Members: $99
    Non-Members: $119

    Keynote Lunch Only: $40

    It is important to remember the fact that Ken Saltman points out brilliantly in The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy-- that is OUR money they're giving away. The vulture philanthropists get huge tax breaks by giving to tax-free organizations, money that otherwise would have been going to the IRS. Think about this every time you read of the activities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Those are YOUR tax dollars at work.

    By Jim Broadway

    By the end of last week the barely one-month old "Stand for Children Illinois PAC" had delivered $635,000 -- mostly from its Portland, Oregon headquarters -- to the election campaigns of selected Illinois legislative candidates.


    Why is an Oregon non-profit buying up Illinois legislators?

    It seems to have something to do with "Waiting for Superman," the likely Oscar winning "documentary" whose premise is that teachers' unions and other sticks in the mud are making our school systems "fail."

    They want their message heard in the Illinois legislature.

    Did they back the right horses? It appears to me they chose well. If so, when the privatization movement kicks off next spring, the Stand for Children voice will be articulate in all four partisan caucuses.

    On October 4, the PAC delivered: $50,000 to Rep. Bob Flider (D-Decatur); $50,000 to Rep. Keith Farnham (D-Elgin); $100,000 to comeback aspiring former Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin); $100,000 to Rep. Jehan Gordon (D-Peoria); and $50,000 to Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

    Later contributions: another $50,000 to Sen. Hutchinson; $10,000 to Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Skokie seeking a House seat; $50,000 to Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights); and $175,000 to Ryan Higgins of Schaumburg, a Republican House candidate.

    This seems very significant. It is most uncommon for contributions so large to go directly to legislative candidates without being funneled through -- or at least directed by -- the campaign funds controlled by the four caucus leaders.

    Clearly, Stand for Children is acquiring "champions" in the four caucuses, eloquent voices to influence their colleagues and even stand up to their leaders, on education issues, if need be.

    The timing is also interesting. The donations all came just after the October 3 deadline before which candidates have to list them in their semi-annual reports. Now they show up only in reports less frequently accessed by the media.

    Organizations use this tactic to keep their contributions from becoming "news."

    Where did all this money come from? There is no way of knowing. Stand for Children is the source, but it is a private grant-funded entity. Its 2008 filing with the IRS indicated it received more than $3 million that year, but does not say from whom.

    I suspect its grants come from Bill Gates or similar sources.

    In any case, folks who viewed "Waiting for Superman" and liked it have reason to cheer. But if you saw it as a skewed attack on public education, brace yourself. A push for harsh "reforms" appears on the horizon, especially if Sen. Bill Brady becomes governor.

    And now we can guess who'll be reading the talking points in the caucus meetings.

    To comment to us on any other topic, click the Contact SSNS link here.

    — Jim Broadway with obsessive notes by S. Ohanian
    State School News Service




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