Last weekend I wrote a diary about Latinos for Education Reform’s ties to the pro-voucher community. It sparked no less than four new pols names being created to defend the organization, and as of today has 72 comments. Given the interest, and the many questions that were raised in the discussion, I thought I would look into the organization more.
The first thing that struck me as odd was that there was actually no record of the group existing under political organizations. Looking under businesses, it shows up as having been formed two days ago(October 10th, 2011), two days after my diary went up and presumably weeks (or more) after they had started collecting contributions and placing ads in local newspapers. While campaigns for the Denver School Board all sent in their lists of donors last night, this “organization,” whose only public action so far was to run ads advocating for and against candidates, has not made public where any of their funding is coming from. Given that Secretary of State Gessler has been so “forgiving” of right-wing groups in the past I would be surprised if this ever becomes an issue.
More after the jump.
This diary may start to sound like an incestuous version of the Kevin Bacon game, but poking around for filings a few names kept coming up that seemed connected to each other in odd ways. Some of this is more questions than I have answers, but I wanted to share (and please chime in if you have any thoughts, even if you just think that I’m seeing things that aren’t there).
Jesus Salazar: Mr. Salazar is the Registered Agent for LFER (the ad refers to him as Treasurer). Mr. Salazar is on the board of A+, which I think is hosting candidate forums for the DPS races. A+ is Van Schoales, who also works at Ed Reform Now with Myles Mendoza.
Stand for Children: Stand is a group from Portland, Oregon who recently poured money into several Illinois elections. Afterward, their CEO gave a rather boneheaded speech at the Aspen institute for which he later apologized. Their Colorado Chapter has recently become active, as seen by the huge contributions to several DPS candidates. Stand also brings us to our next individual, and possibly the most interesting of this group: Katie Kennedy
Katie Kennedy: Katie is apparently involved with a number of organizations related to this race. Searching her name on the Colorado Secretary of State webpage bring up Stand for Children (where she is the registered agent), as well as something called “Better Schools for a Stronger Colorado” (where she is also the registered agent). BSSC appears to be operating out of the stand office, which raises a question about why two groups apparently doing the same thing are in the same place. That by itself isn’t too odd though, until you take a look at candidates they are supporting. Jennifer Draper Carson, Board Member Jimenez’s opponent (the main candidate LFER is attacking), is paying Strategic Compliance LLC for “consulting” work.. That business name is (you might have guessed) Katie Kenndy’s.. Other links to Katie Kennedy show that she’s the registered agent for groups like the (Republican) Senate Majority Fund
Speaking of Republicans, it’s interesting that major contributions to all three of the top fundraisers (which have been referred to as a slate: Happy Haynes, Anne Rowe, and Jennifer Draper-Carson) come from two wealthy Republicans: Bruce Benson, who gave each campaign $10,000, and (more interesting) Henry Gordon, an oil and gas conservative whose previous contributions were limited to $1500 to Ken Buck against former Superintendent Bennet. Gordon gave a whopping $25,000 to each of the 3 campaigns. Between the two of them, that’s over $100,000 into the race. Dan Ritchie topped all of them, donating $26,000 to each (The Ed News Piece points these out well).
So what to make of all of this? To recap, LFER is a new organization that apparently doesn’t feel the need to actually file paperwork to engage in political activity (and of course their C4 status is questionable given what they have been doing). That’s all very solid. As for the rest of this, the same names just keep coming up too much, even in a city as small as Denver. Why is a campaign paying the registered agent of two independent expenditure groups? Why is that campaign using a Republican with extensive 527 ties at all? Why is Stand for Children and BSSC, who apparently share an office, using a Republican Strategist for a nonpartisan race between two registered Democrats? Why is a man whose previous largest contribution was against (now) Senator Bennet suddenly contributing huge amounts to three candidates who are seen in the media as supporting the Bennet/Boasberg reforms?
I’m curious if and when LFER actually has to file any information on their donors, given that they are appearing as a business and not a political committee. I would imagine a lot of the same names would keep coming up again.