Author’s Note: While I sometimes wish it weren’t the case, I feel the need to preface posts like the one below with a couple quick reminders. For as long as there have been elections, there have been campaign contributions, and as it stands now, they are an accepted part of the American political system. There is nothing inherently corrupt about them; there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea that financially supporting a candidate who shares your interest is somehow wrong. In some cases, journalists and politicians put the cart before the horse when discussing campaign contributions, attributing votes to contributions, rather than contributions to votes. That said, the relationship between campaign contributions and the eventual positions that politicians take is important.
My previous post on Senate Bill 6 noted that Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Tampa) voted for it, along with the majority of Senate Republicans. Her primary opponent, Paul Phillips, was opposed. The bill, which would have adversely affected teachers unions and was accused of being a danger to public education as a whole, would have been a boon for private education and proponents of charter schools-interests that, as it turns out, have contributed a large portion of Storms’ re-election warchest.
Of the roughly $25,000 that Storms raised in the first quarter of 2010, around 20 percent was contributed by private education interests, like DeVry University and ATI, as well as K12 Management Inc., a company that runs charter schools in several states, and a personal contribution from Randy Proto, CEO of ATI. A full report on these numbers can be seen here. (It is difficult to contrast Phillips’ fundraising numbers to Storms’, given that he has only raised only $1,380 thus far.)
Placing these fundraising numbers in context lends a bit more credibility to the theory that these contributions were geared towards SB-6. In the last quarter of 2009, Storms raised around twice as much money-nearly $50,000. However, not a single dime of it came from education trade groups and the like-see this campaign finance report. The quarter before that was Storms’ biggest fundraising quarter ever-around $69.000, but only $1,500, or around two percent, was flagged as coming from education groups or companies.
Turns out the historic veto made last week by Florida Governor Charlie Christ about the teacher’s tenure bill, a highly contested issue that has been brewing in the state legislature, could be a game changer to help CFO candidate Loranne Ausley.
Ausley’s main competition, current Senate president Jeff Atwater was not the creator of Senate Bill 6, but he did support it. In turn, many teacher’s are expected to support Ausley in the upcoming CFO election, according an article published on April 13 on http://www.statesunshinenews.com.
“I’m sure it will be an issue, but it’s only one of a broad array of issues,” said Atwater’s campaign adviser Rick Wilson in this article.
Though Atwater certainly still has the upper-hand in this election, particularly in the fundraising category, his campaign efforts will have to continue the race might be getting a lot closer.
– Hillary Grey