A remarkable story from Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas was published last night which traced the money trail that fuels the candidacies of state republican legislators. Legal under campaign financing laws, the Republican Party of Florida takes in donations and passes it on to PACs belonging to the incoming leaders of both legislative bodies – Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) in the House and Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) in the Senate. Here’s Klas’ summary:
Here’s how the money breaks down:
Leadership money in legislative races:
Sen. Don Gaetz — $3.6 million raised
* $2.6 million — raised by the Republican Party of Florida, $2.6 million transferred to Gaetz’s committee, Florida Conservative Majority
* $3.5 million — raised by the Florida Conservative Majority, $2.2 million transferred to Gaetz’s Liberty Foundation of Florida
* $2.3 million — raised by Liberty Foundation of Florida
Rep. Will Weatherford — $3.8 million raised
* $2.5 million — raised by the Republican Party of Florida and spent on House races or political committees controlled by House members
* $1.3 million — raised by Weatherford’s Committee for a Conservative House
* $30,000 — raised by Weatherford’s committee, Citizens for Conservative Leadership
Source: Florida Division of Elections
This blog’s theme revolves around the intersection between education policy and politics with special attention to what’s happening in Florida. Its not a secret that the republican party has a strangle hold on power in Tallahassee. Its education agenda is no longer a secret. Lets look at two entities who stand out in the money its sent to the RPOF to be filtered to selected candidates.
No more hated figure exists in the minds of democrats and liberal groups than do the Koch brothers. Their legislative arm, ALEC is responsible for driving and writing several divisive pieces of legislation in Florida, including those on prison privatization, parent trigger, union dues and state worker pensions. Koch Industries gave $40,000 to the RPOF in separate $20,000 amounts in January this year money, money which eventually went to the PACs of the house leaders in Tallahassee
Charter Schools USA has 36 schools in Florida and will be opening more. Its CEO Jonathan Hage is well-connected, and was a member of Rick Scott’s education transition team. He’s closely associated to former governor Jeb Bush as former director of one of his foundations. Hage’s Charter Schools USA gave two separate donations to the RPOF on the same day in January totalling $52,700. The for-profit charter school company gets its money from taxpayer dollars.
The realities of who wields the power and why in determining education policy may be of interests to Floridians. Especially now that the test-based accountability system that was set up to benefit guys like Hage and the Koch brothers has become a political hot potato – even for members of the party they want to support.