Campaign contributions by Maverick’s charter school operators, family members and employees are detailed in a stunning story today by Doug Martin. Records show that both school board member Chuch Shaw and board chairman Frank Barbieri have received contributions from Mavericks’ operators and people cloesly associated with them. The list includes Vice President Joe Biden’s brother and Maverick’s president, Frank.
Mavericks currently operates one charter school in Palm Beach County, but originally the school district was not a fan of the Biden-led company. After Palm Beach County’s department of charter schools determined that Mavericks’ application did not meet financial and other standards, Frank Biden, as Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss pointed out, met with members of the school board and persuaded them to change their minds. In early February 2011, they did.
Word at the time was Biden and Mavericks had promised to donate to various school board members’ campaigns, a tactic they’ve been using since June 16, 2010, when an avalanche of Mavericks-money appeared all at once in Chuck Shaw’s campaign chest and helped him get elected to the school board.
Mavericks’ lawyer and board liaison, Charles Barnett, gave $250.
Lauren Rodberg Hollander, Mavericks’ manager, forked over $50.
Husband Steve Hollander, chief operating officer at Mavericks, seconded with another $50.
Adam Hollander, former Palm Beach County Eagle Scout, Ole Miss student, and Lauren Hollander’s son, affirmed with his $50.
Mark Rodberg, Mavericks’ developer, slid $50 toward Shaw.
Eve Rodberg donated $50.
Mavericks’ curriculum director, Bonnie Solinsky, gave Chuck $50.
Mike Rosen, Mavericks’ CPA, CFO, dished out $50.
A past Charter Schools USA employee, former Florida legislator, and current lobbyist for Mavericks, Frank Attkisson chum-n-chump changed $50.
Debbie Schatz, Mavericks’ marketing guru, handed over $50.
And Frank Biden, president (as of Dec. 5, 2011) and lobbyist for Mavericks, spared a hard-earned $50.
Although Chuck Shaw abstained during the final vote on Mavericks’ charter school, it didn’t look good.
Frank Barbieri, school board chair, voted “aye,” and in September 2011, he was rewarded. The Hollander family and real estate business gave $1,500 toward Barbieri’s upcoming reelection bid. School Property Development, LLC– led by Barnett and Charles Berle–also donated $500, and Berle pitched in another $25o of his corporate cash.
Isn’t it interesting that the Mavericks application hearing before the Palm Beach board was cancelled once revelations came from Lisa Rab’s New Times story last month? Nonetheless, Martin followed the money. How many other powerful charter schools have donated to Florida politicians in such a clear attempt to influence their votes? Were Shaw and Barbieri peddling theirs? And even if such campaign contribution are legal, do Floridians want such influence to be available to charter schools that aren’t to public schools?