Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DFER brags: Our money beat Travis

Mitchell on the make and on the take.
School privatizers and charter hustlers from DFER are all over Twitter, taking credit for Christian Mitchell's  questionable narrow victory over progressive candidate Jay Travis. The IL branch of the N.Y.-based hedge-fund-started group dropped more than $50,000 into the Mitchell campaign through its newly-activated Chicago school reform PAC.

Instead of boasting, they should be headed back to the drawing board wondering why, with all their money and lots more from the likes of the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co.PAC, Illinois Energy Association, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce PAC, and California billionaire Eli Broad, an incumbent like Mitchell was is this close to losing his seat to underdog Travis. 

Mitchell, backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan was leading Travis by only a few hundred votes as polls closed. But reports of widespread voting "irregularities" have thrown the outcome into question. Travis has not conceded. 

DFER's State Director Rebeca Nieves-Huffman, says her PAC will now turn its attention to Chicago’s 2015 aldermanic elections which she says will be a referendum on the future of education in the city.
“We are committed to supporting candidates in the upcoming city elections who share our vision, and we intend to hold elected officials accountable for their opposition to the policies our students need to succeed,” Nieves-Huffman said.
Huffman is an old hand at union-busting and comes to DFER from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) where she managed the grant-making work of the organization through its Fund for Authorizing Excellence and before that, from the KIPP Foundation.

In addition to Nieves-Huffman, the PAC has hired a Stakeholder Engagement Director, Sean Harden, who was Mayor Richard Daley‘s executive assistant and liaison to the interfaith community. They have also snagged Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle‘s budget spokesman, Owen Kilmer, who previously worked as a campaign operative for the Illinois Senate Democrats and as deputy press secretary for Gary Chico‘s 2011 mayoral campaign, to be the group’s communications chief.

According to the right-wing Illinois Observer, the PAC which was formed in 2011 but has lain dormant for nearly two years, has recently pulled in $60,500, including $21,000 from James and Paula Crown and $5,000 from Jennifer Steans, the sister of State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

The Crowns are also big financial backers of the statewide school reform PAC Stand for Children Illinois.

Its leaders expect to raise more than $1 million for 2015.

For a better sense on how DFER operates, see my blog post from last April. 
Here's more on DFER from School Finance 101.

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