Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Campaign Finance, Charter Schools, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Michelle Rhee, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst Campaign Finance, Education Reform, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC 7 Comments
In the financial world, I think they call it Return on Investment, or, in the parlance of Wall Street ROI.
On May 29, 2012, Governor Malloy’s education reform bill became Public Act 12-116.
Twenty-four hours later, Malloy was ensconced at the 10,000 square-foot, $8.5 million, Greenwich, Connecticut home of corporate education reform financier Jonathan Sackler for a fundraiser that netted the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee more than $41,000.
Sackler, who helped Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, create Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company that owns at least 20 schools in Connecticut and New York, also played a pivotal role in forming Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN), Connecticut Coalition for Education Advocacy (ConnAD) and 50-CAN, the national organization that has inserted ConnCAN-like organizations into the education reform debate in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. ConnAD was a primary funder behind the lobbying effort to pass Malloy’s education bill last spring, and more recently, helped fund Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate a democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor.
Malloy’s financial patrons included the chairman and board members of Achievement First, Inc. as well as board members of Achievement First-Bridgeport, Achievement First-Amistad and Achievement First-Elm City, with most donating the maximum $750 per person allowed under Connecticut law.
A total of at least six members of ConnCAN’s small Board of Directors, along with numerous members of ConnCAN’s Advisory Board were also in attendance or provided checks for the event. At least two senior board officers of Excel Bridgeport and the President and Vice President of the New Beginnings Family Academy, another charter school in Bridgeport also donated. ConnCAN’s former CEO, Alex Johnston gave, as did the spouse of the Connecticut Director of Teacher For America.
The Vice Chair of Eva Moskowitz’s infamous New York City based Success Academy Charter Schools dropped $1,500 on the event, thanks to donations from board members and his wife, while another donation came from a board member of the Newark, New Jersey, Team Charter School chain, which is owned by KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, a “national network” of 125 charter schools around the Country.
The event, a veritable who’s who of corporate education reformers, included the Chief Operating Officer of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, a couple of national board members of Teach For America, members of KIPP’s national board of directors, a board member of New Leaders Inc. (a program to “train” school administrators in the ways of education reformers) and one of the founders of the national group, Democrats for Education Reform.
Donations for the event came from as far away as Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Vero Beach, Pacific Palisades, Teton Village, Wyoming, McLean, Virginia, Los Angeles, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, along with multiple checks from education reform/hedge fund managers from New York City.
Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel kicked in $750, along with his associate, Meghan Lowney, who spent so much time and effort pushing the Malloy Administration’s illegal, and eventually failed, attempt to take-over the Bridgeport School System in 2010.
When not funding Governor Malloy’s political action committee or various Connecticut and national education reform organizations, the attendees and donors to the Sackler fundraiser are busy running hedge funds and investment companies. The donor list included CEOs, Presidents and Directors of Alternative Investment Group, Belenos Capital, Brookside International, Carl Marks & Co., Carter Morse & Mathias, Conatus Capital, Dawson Capital Management, Five Mile Capital Partners, Greenwich Capital Markets, Gotham Capital and Gotham Asset Management, Jaws Estates Capital, Lone Pine Capital, North Bay Associates, Salmon River Capital, Sessa Capital, Shumway Capital, Structured Portfolio Management (SPM) , Tilson Mutual Funds and Viking Global Investors, just to name a few.
According to information first reported by the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, Jon Lender, Sackler’s May 30, 2012 fundraiser was one of at least fourteen fundraisers the political action committee, Prosperity for Connecticut, held between October 2011 and October 2012. As of its last State Elections Enforcement Report (October 28, 2012), the PAC reported that it has raised a total of just over $205,000.
With donations related to the May 30, 2012 party totally over $41,000, it appears that Sackler’s education reform house party may be the single most profitable event the PAC has held.
A minor side-note: With no expenditure listed for food and beverages for the May 30, 2012 event and no “in-kind contribution” of food and beverages listed from the event’s host, it would appear that the attendees weren’t provided any food or beverage for their efforts. Alternatively, of course, the PAC violated state law by failing to properly report its official expenditures or in-kind contributions, in which case a fine should be forthcoming should the State Election Enforcement Commission take notice of the PAC’s election law violation.