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$1.3M Wasn’t Enough: Still More Walton Money Appears in La.’s October 2019 Elections

October 18, 2019

Arkansas billionaire siblings Alice and Jim Walton pumped $1.3M into Louisiana’s October 12, 2019, primary elections, which included elections for 7 out of 11 state ed board (BESE) seats.

But there’s more.

An October 09, 2019, filing by the Louisiana Charter Schools in Action (LCSA) PAC indicates that Jim and Alice Walton spent yet another $200K ($100K apiece) on September 20, 2019, to promote two particular BESE candidates: Sandy Holloway (District 3) and Ronnie Morris (District 6).

LCSA PAC is chaired by Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) executive director, Caroline Roemer, whose brother Charles was a member of the BESE board. (To read about that conflict of interest, see my March 2013 post.)

Holloway won her seat, and Morris will be in a runoff against Gregory Spiers on November 16, 2019.

According to its September 03, 2019, filing, the LSCA PAC had a balance of $1,718 and had not received any contributions since January 2019, related to its support for two candidates for East Baton Rouge (EBR) school board, Tramelle Howard (District 3; elected the primary on November 06, 2018) and Dadrius Lanus (District 2; elected in a runoff on December 08, 2018). (On October 01, 2018, Jim Walton donated $25,000 via LSCA PAC towards that election. The only other contributor to LSCA PAC for that election was Stand for Children, at $12,000. And not to leave Alice Walton out: She donated $30,000 to LCSA PAC in November 2016.)

Despite LSCA PAC laying dormant for nine months between the 2018 EBR and 2019 BESE elections, LSCA PAC continued to name Howard and Lanus as the candidates they were supporting. It looks like the report preparer did not bother to remove Howard’s and Lanus’ names from subsequent monthly reports.

Nor did the report preparer bother to update the candidates supported section of the report when the Walton $200K arrived on September 20, 2019. Still, Howard and Lanus (now EBR board members and longer candidates) were identified as the candidates supported– and were mismatched with the expenditure details, which indicated that $22,400 was spent on radio ads for Holloway and $169,265, for TV ads for Morris.

All ads were purchased on September 23, 2019, three days after arrival of the Walton funds.

That Arkansas Walton money just needed a Louisiana ed-reform place to land.

What better place that Roemer’s charter-promoting PAC.

This latest Walton election-purchase update brings the Arkansas-billionaire total contribution to Louisiana’s October 2019 elections to $1.5M.

Don’t ever believe that corporate ed reform is a grass roots effort.

money roll

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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