Arkansas Residents Jim and Alice Walton Pony Up $1,835,000 to Raise Charter Cap in Massachusetts
According to the September 09, 2016, filing of the Massachusetts ballot committee, Yes on 2, billionaire Arkansas resident Alice Walton is one of two individuals providing the $710,100 in funding to promote MA Question 2, raising the charter school cap.
Alice Walton provided $710,000.
A second contributor, Massachusetts resident Frank Perullo provided $100 in order to establish the committee.
And then, the Alice Walton cash was moved to another Question 2 ballot committee: $703,770.29 of Alice Walton’s Yes on 2 committee money was expended to fund Question 2 ballot committee, Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools, where it was combined with billionaire Arkansas resident Jim Walton’s contribution of $1,125,000, thus making the total Walton contribution to the two committees $1,835,000 (and total Walton contribution to the latter committee, $1,828,770.29).
The Campaign for Fair Access total on its Sept 09, 2016, filing was $2,292,183 for 43 contributors– with 79 percent of that money ($1,828,770 / $2,292183) arriving from two out-of-state billionaires.
In other words, 95 percent of contributors (41 out of 43) provided only 21 percent of the total funding on the Campaign for Fair Access Sept 2016 report.
I can almost hear the conversation between Alice and Jim:
“You buy this Massachusetts ballot committee, and I’ll buy that one.”
The Waltons are not the only out-of-state billionaires using their wealth to influence the charter cap in a state in which they do not reside. According to the September 09, 2016, filing of the Question 2 ballot committee, Great Schools Massachusetts, other out-of-state billionaire/lobbying nonprofit contributors include the following:
- John Arnold (Texas), $250,000
- Michael Bloomberg (New York), $240,000
- Education Reform Now (ERN) Advocacy (New York), $250,000
- Families for Excellent Schools (FES) Advocacy (New York), $5,750,000
Note that the lobbying nonprofits, ERN Advocacy and FES Advocacy, are not required to disclose their donors. Sure, their donations are not tax deductible if made directly to the lobbying nonprofit (i.e., 501c4). However, a way around this is for a donor to contribute to an associated non-lobbying nonprofit (501c3) and let the 501c3 pay the 501c4.
All of this is to say that the public will likely never see a comprehensive listing of the exact billionaires pumping their cash influence into the Massachusetts charter cap question.
However, based upon the September 09, 2016 filings of the three ballot committees noted above (Yes on 2, Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools, and Great Schools Massachusetts), the total contributions from out-of-state individuals and lobbying nonprofits is $8,325,000.
That’s over $8 million funded by 4 individuals and 2 lobbying nonprofits to influence the charter laws in another state.
Astounding and disgusting all at once.