A dubiously named PAC appeared on the scene late this spring. Teachers, Principals and Parents United for Florida Schools (TTP United) is run by Florida republican power broker, Nancy Watkins. who serves as treasurer for at least 26 different PACs associated with state republicans.
There aren’t any teachers, principals or parents of Florida children involved with TTP United. Just a shadowy education management corp, a charter school executive and a company whose CEO is a board member of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. TTP United’s seed money comes from three separate checks:
*On 6/11/12 a $5000 contribution came from Discovery Schools, Inc, a self-described Fort Lauderdale charter school management corporation. Is web site lists no employees or board of directors. A corporationwiki perusal lists Jose J. Armas as director and Jon T. Rogers as CEO. The corporation has made only one other contribution: to a democrat candidate for an open congressional seat. Rogers, who lists his profession as a principal, has made two individual campaign contributions on 6/22/12 to Janet Adkins (Fernandina Beach) for $500 and for the same amount to Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) just six days ago 8/6/12.
* On 6/16/12 TPP United received $5000 from charter school executive Robert Haag. Just the day before, I had an opinion piece published in the Orlando Sentinel where I made the case that Florida charter schools weren’t being held accountable to taxpayers. Haag made a contrary argument. The Miami Herald found that Haag’s Charter Schools for Excellence wer engaged in questionable use of federal grant money akin to double dipping. A “Bob Haag” and a “Robert Haag” has made 4 separate $500 contributions to four different state legislators, including Stargel since the beginning of the year. Of on those 4 donations was made from the same address and Discovery Schools Inc which implies that Haag is somehow affiliated with Rogers company.
*One first day of this month 8/1/12 , Florida Crystals Corporation made a $2500 contribution to TPP United. Since late 2010, Florida Crystals has donated almost $390,000 in campaign cash in Florida to numerous candidates and PACs. Its CEO, Pepe Fanjul, Jr., sits on the board of directors of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future. Fanjul does not appear to have made any Florida campaign contributions in his name.
At the direction of Nancy Watkins, TTP United has quickly turned around almost all the money the PAC has received and placed it into the campaigns of a virtual who’ who list of go-to legislators for charter schools. Stargell (7/19/12) and Adkins (6/18/12) received another $500 each. Charter school friendly Michael Belica (R-Miami), Marti Coley (R-Marianna) and Jason Broduer (R-Sanford) were among those who received charter school money legally laundered through Watkin’s PAC. TTP United is seeking to influence three south Florida school board races as well.
Thers is only one entity which can seriously advocate for public schools in the political arena in Florida. The Florida Education Association Advocacy Fund uses dues from union members like me. But unlike TTP United and its hidden paymasters, the FEAAF doesn’t pretend to be someone it’s not.