Coalition for School Reform Gets Big Donations

Eli Broad

The Coalition for School Reform’s District 6 (East San Fernando Valley) runoff election coffers have been replenished thanks to big donations received from Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad and StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee’s education advocacy group, among others.

According to reports just filed with the LA City Ethics Commission, Broad gave the Coalition $250,000. StudentsFirst contributed another $100,000. A LA-area business consulting group called Aurora Management Partners contributed $30,000 to the Coalition, and Century City 1800 Partners gave $20,000. As LA School Report reported Monday, the Coalition had $230,000 in its war chest at the beginning of April. These new contributions push that amount to $630,000.

Previous posts: Runoff 2013: Slow Fundraising Start for District 6; Runoff: Union & LA Times Might Shift Endorsements

Runoff 2013: Slow Fundraising Start for District 6

Voters head to the polls in less than six weeks to decide the East San Fernando Valley District 6 School Board runoff between Antonio Sanchez and Monica Ratliff, but things are off to a pretty slow start when it comes to fundraising and spending.

In terms of direct campaign fundraising, Ratliff hasn’t raised any money at all since the primary election, and Sanchez has raised just $15,000 since early March.

As for the IE committees, the latest financial reports from the LA City Ethics Commission cover a time period between mid-February and April 6:

*UTLA-PACE, the teachers union’s political arm, received $237,000 in contributions, as well as $628,000 in “miscellaneous cash increases” but only has $73,000 left for the runoff because the union spent heavily in the weeks leading up to the primary. (See report here.)

*The Coalition for School Reform received $712,000 in contributions during the same time period. But it also spent heavily on the primary, so the Coalition has $230,000 in its account to spend on the District 6 election. (See report here.)

*And the Local 99 branch of the Service Employees International Union collected $398,000 between February and April. It has $261,000 to spend on the runoff. (See report here.)

In terms of spending, outside groups including the Coalition for School Reform and the LA County Federation of Labor spent almost $1.3 million to support Sanchez in the primary, but they have spent only $66,000 on him since then.

LA School Report will keep track of campaign spending and will update you with more up-to-date numbers as we get them.

Morning Read: Spending Up 977 Percent Over 2009

L.A. School Board Race Tops Spending Records
The city’s ethics commission, which tracks campaign finances, reported this week that independent expenditures in the three board races represent a 977 percent increase over the primary four years ago, the last time these three seats were up for grabs. EdWeek
See also: LA School Report

Mayoral Rivals Talk Like Supply-Siders; Spending Roars
While the candidates are going to pains to try to differentiate themselves before the March 5 election, they found one issue to agree upon unanimously at an education forum in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday — their desire to retain John Deasy. LA Times

Mayoral Candidates Discuss Ways to Improve Schools at Education Summit
The five candidates running to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each vowed Wednesday to continue his commitment to public education, along with his strong support of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and vision for reform. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, Neon Tommy

Keep Questions Coming About L.A. Candidates’ Union Cash
Official records show union political action committees account for the vast majority of the more than $7.5 million spent on citywide, City Council and L.A. school board races so far in the form of unrestricted independent expenditures. Business groups can’t keep up. LA Daily News Editorial

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District 2’s Garcia Responds to Negative Mailers

An anti-Garcia UTLA mailer

The teachers union political action committee has allocated the majority of its expenditures in the East LA District 2 School Board election — almost $90,000 — to attack incumbent LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and bolster the chances of forcing a runoff between Garcia and one of her three union-endorsed candidates.

But are the attacks accurate or, as LA Times columnist Steve Lopez recently noted about both sides’ campaign mailers, misleading?

In an interview with LA School Report, Garcia refuted most of the claims made against her and took responsibility for those that were accurate.

“I think the other side is using a strategy that is focused on not offering anything, but on just saying no to reform, to change.”

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Morning Read: District 4 Race Will Affect Entire District

Could a Single School Board Race Determine the Future of LAUSD?
If Zimmer loses to challenger Kate Anderson, both sides agree, that will permanently tip the scales 4 to 3 in favor of a board that pushes for more charter expansion and data based teacher evaluations.KPCC

Donations From Independent Groups Shaping City, LAUSD Elections
Independent expenditures continue to dominate the school board election, with reform- and union-backed organizations battling to guide the future of the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report

In Their Words: L.A. Mayor Candidates Answer the Times’ Questions
Readers will find that some answers are clear and emphatic, and some are carefully hedged. A couple of candidates left questions unanswered. But in a race where the competitors are scrambling to break away from the pack, voters can find a few revealing contrasts. LA Times

California Trails Nation in Reading, Math and Science, Report Finds
California has largely trailed the rest of the country in reading, mathematics and science in the last decade, according to an analysis released Thursday of test results from the five most populous states. LA Times
See also: SI&A Cabinet Report

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Update: Outside Spending Tops $2 Million, Grows Negative

The latest independent expenditure (IE) committee numbers posted on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission website show an eye-popping $2.2 million in spending by outside groups thus far.

That number is sure to grow in the next two weeks before the March 5 primary election date.

The messaging has already gone negative in the more contentious races in District 2 (East LA) and District 4 (Hollywood to the Westside), and given past experience, it’s possible that the mailers and advertisements will become even more negative in upcoming days.

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Morning Read: Election Poised to Break $4.5 Million Record

LA Unified School Board Race Could Break Fundraising Records This Election
The 2013 school board races have barely started and they have already attracted more than $4 million in donations. KPCC
See also: LA School Report

Union Wins Right to Represent Valley Charter School
The Los Angeles teachers union announced Wednesday night that it has won the right to negotiate a contract for teachers and counselors at a West San Fernando Valley charter school. LA Times

Open Letter to New York Mayor Bloomberg
Perhaps I haven’t pleased everyone in my pursuit to make our student’s education a priority, and by eschewing politics to pursue education reform I’ve offended the extremes of the education debate. Venice Patch Op-Ed by LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer

Slate Mailer Sleaze in L.A.
If you are on record as ever having voted in an L.A. municipal election, this month your mailbox will jam up with photo-filled mailers in advance of the March 5 primary for mayor, City Council, city attorney, controller, Los Angeles Unified School Board and community college trustees. LA Weekly

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Clerical Error Accounts for Disclosure Discrepancy*

LA School Report has learned that the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission is at fault in an election disclosure discrepancy reported here earlier today. According to the Commission, due to human error, the City Ethics site did not make public independent expenditures (IEs) made by the teachers union political arm, UTLA-PACE, for LAUSD school board candidates.

Late today, a city official from the Ethics Commission called LA School Report to say that UTLA-PACE had in fact disclosed its IE spending to the Commission on time, but due to a clerical error, the paperwork was not filed properly at the Commission.

According to election disclosure laws an independent expenditure committee must report spending made on behalf of candidates within 24 hours, and requires the information is made public on the City Ethics website.

How much money has UTLA-PACE spent to help candidates? All we know for sure is that the numbers reported today by the LA Times (read here), and reported on our site (read here) last week are rendered inaccurate. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see.

*Update: An earlier version of this post directly quoted the Ethics Commission when it should have been a paraphrase; the post has been corrected.

UTLA-PACE Spends Undisclosed Amount for Zimmer

LA School Report has learned that the teachers union’s political arm, UTLA-PACE, has sent a direct mail piece on behalf of a Westside District 4 candidate, Steve Zimmer, in what appears to be its first election expenditure. The mailer is notable because UTLA-PACE is expected to spend big on behalf of UTLA-backed school board candidates, but it hasn’t yet disclosed any campaign activity. The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission confirmed today that no disclosures had been filed.

To comply with city election law, committees that make independent expenditures (IEs) on behalf of candidates must file disclosure papers within 24 hours if an expenditure meets or exceeds a cumulative total of $1,000. This mailer may not have pushed UTLA-PACE to its spending threshold, though according to Ethics Commission records, mailers like this one are usually costly.

UTLA-PACE has not yet responded for comment. We’ll let you know.

Click to view the front and back of the mailer.

Coalition, SEIU, County Fed Spend on Candidates

With the March 5 election day now less than a month away, the Coalition for School Reform, the LA County Federation of Labor, and the Local 99 branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have each kicked their LAUSD School Board spending up a notch, but UTLA-PACE — a major player in past elections — still hasn’t reported spending anything significant. Also worth noting is that none of the outside campaigns have reported any spending on negative advertising, either, though that is almost certain to come.

As of February 5:

The Coalition spent $73,000 each on consulting services for Monica Garcia, Kate Anderson, and Antonio Sanchez, adding up to $219,000. This raises the amount the Coalition has spent so far in the election to $329,000.

The LA County Federation of Labor spent almost $19,000 each on consulting services for Monica Garcia and Antonio Sanchez, totaling $38,000. The County Fed spent an additional $30,000 for scripted telephone calls supporting Steve Zimmer. (To read the script, click here.) So far, the County Fed has spent $118,000 on its three endorsed candidates.

SEIU Local 99 spent a $1,000 each on phone banking for Garcia, Zimmer, and Sanchez. This increases its election spending to $167,000.

In response to a LA School Report story on Friday, UTLA recently declared that it was following campaign disclosure laws. Yesterday, UTLA secondary Vice President Gregg Solkovits told LA School Report that defeating School Board President Monica Garcia was a top priority.  But the group has yet to declare any substantial campaign spending.

UTLA Defends Disclosure and Reporting

Over the weekend, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Director of Communications Suzanne Spurgeon emailed us a statement about our Friday story on how UTLA has been reporting and spending its money so far in the LAUSD School Board campaign:

“To our knowledge PACE has reported expenditures in a timely and proper manner. If there have been any oversights, PACE will correct those.”

Previous posts:  What’s UTLA Going to Do With Its Money?UTLA-PACE: Website Now, Disclosure Later? Teachers Endorse Garcetti for MayorUnion Head Decries “Media Witch Hunt”

Reform Coalition Weighs In for Anderson, Sanchez, & Garcia

Late on Friday, the Coalition for School Reform, an Independent Expenditure (IE) committee, filed paperwork indicating that it had spent its first money:  $45,457 for District 4 candidate Kate Anderson, $33,431 for District 6 candidate Antonio Sanchez and $29,238 for District 2 incumbent Monica Garcia.

Most of the money went to The Feldman Group, which has also done polling for Garcia and Sanchez on behalf of the SEIU. The Coalition has also finally redesigned its website, indicating that Jerrold Perenchio and Eli Broad are among its top contributors (as they were in 2011).

That means that three major IE campaigns — LA County Fed, SEIU, Coalition — have now started spending the money they’ve been raising in recent weeks.  Where is UTLA’s IE, UTLA-PACE, when will it start spending — and does it have enough to keep up with the others? We’re doing our best to find out.

Previous posts: January Contribution Reports, Part 2Update: SEIU Spends Big On District 4′s Zimmer,  Different Rules for UTLA-PACEUpdate: Outside Money Pouring InLabor Groups Spend for Garcia & Sanchez

Update: SEIU Spends Big On District 4’s Zimmer

School Board Steve Zimmer’s campaign fundraising has been less than stellar in terms of direct contributions, but it got a big boost this week courtesy of an Independent Expenditure (IE) from SEIU Local 99, which represents classified LAUSD employees.

According to the latest expenditure reports, SEIU Local 99 has thrown down $68,688 to support Zimmer, much of it going to phone-banking and polling (you can see the phone-banking script here).

Zimmer isn’t the only endorsed candidate on whose behalf SEIU Local 99 has begun spending money.  SEIU’s IE campaign also put in $14,418 in support of Monica Garcia and $48,075 in support of Antonio Sanchez.

However, the Westside District 4 contest (Zimmer vs. Kate Anderson) is the only race where the SEIU and the Coalition for School Reform have endorsed different candidates.  The Coalition for School Reform has not yet disclosed any substantial expenditures.  This week’s news suggest that the SEIU could be bracing to mount massive campaigns on behalf of its candidates, and that District 4 is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested races.

Previous posts: Different Rules for UTLA-PACEUpdate: Outside Money Pouring InLabor Groups Spend for Garcia & SanchezReform Coalition Picks Garcia, Anderson & Sanchez

Different Rules for UTLA-PACE

The latest campaign and independent expenditure (IE) committee disclosures are being released today, January 24th, but you won’t find anything there from one of the city’s most powerful IE committees, UTLA-PACE.

Why not? It’s because there are two different types of IE committees functioning in city-wide and LAUSD Board races —  ‘general purpose committees,’ and ‘primarily formed committees’ — each operating under a different set of disclosure rules.

UTLA-PACE is an example of the ‘general purpose” committee and as a result there’s much less information about its fundraising and who’s supporting its efforts. Continue reading

Contributions / Spending Calendar*

Wondering how to track all the money flowing into and out of the different campaigns for School Board and the independent expenditure (IE) committees that support them? It’s still not as easy to figure out as it might be — but we’re here to help.

The most up-to-date filing schedule can be found here, on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission’s homepage. It’s important to keep in mind that the schedule and reporting requirements are different for direct campaign contributions and IE contributions.

The next disclosure date is Thursday, January 24th — tomorrow.  Read on for more about the schedules and different reporting requirements. Continue reading

Labor Groups Spend for Garcia & Sanchez

Over the three-day weekend, two powerful unions — the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the SEIU Local 99 (which represents classified LAUSD employees) kicked off what is expected to be an intense period of activity by independent expenditure (IE) committees over the next few months.

The two organizations spent a combined $54,564 in support of School Board President Monica Garcia, going mostly to a poll, a field program and direct mail (see their first piece of campaign literature here). The County Fed also spent $25,161 on a flyer campaign for Antonio Sanchez, a newcomer running for the East Valley’s District 6 seat (see Sanchez flyer here). No IE spending has taken place so far in the Westside’s District 4, which pits incumbent Steve Zimmer against challenger Kate Anderson.

Independent expenditures are much like Super PACs – they are spent by organizations working independently from a candidate’s campaign and their funding isn’t subject to any contribution limits. In 2011, IEs for school board races totaled more than $4.6 million. In previous school board elections, the biggest IE campaigns have come from the Coalition for School Reform, UTLA and SEIU Local 99.

Previous posts: SEIU Endorses Garcia, Zimmer and SanchezLocal 99, LAUSD’s “Other” Labor UnionAntonio Sanchez, Consensus Candidate?Democrats Decline to Endorse GarciaDistrict 6: SEIU & UTLA Endorsements*

Update: Outside Money Pouring In

Semi-annual financial disclosure forms for independent expenditure (IE) committees aren’t due to the City Ethics Commission until January 31. However, some information can be obtained from the City Ethics Commission in between these reports.

For example, the Coalition for School Reform  — a group of advocates including (but not limited to) charter school proponents — raised $150,000 in the last few days, according to two late contribution reports (see reports here and here).

That leaves the Coalition with just under $300,000 cash on hand, since they ended last year with about $145,000 in the bank (see last semi-annual report here).

For comparison, the teachers union’s IE committee, UTLA-PACE, already had $634,901 in its campaign chest as of June.

This is just the latest reminder that, thanks to strong interest in the outcome of the race and no-limit contribution rules, IEs on both sides can raise and spend gobs of money for publicity, organizing, and  other campaign activities — likely eclipsing direct contributions to individual campaigns.

Additional reporting by Samantha Oltman

Election 2013: Independent Expenditure Rules

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission has a handy, one-page document that gives an overview of the rules covering independent expenditures (IE) made to support or oppose LAUSD Board candidates.

The rules are straightforward, at least in theory. But as LA School Report has shown in previous reporting, finding out exactly who’s giving to IEs can be tricky if the IE is headed by a union that collects member dues.

Read below for some key highlights of what’s required, or read the full document campaign finance laws here.

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Candidates & Coalition Pick Consultants

The March 5 elections are less than three months away, and campaigns and advocates are busy hiring campaign consultants.

The San Francisco-based SCN Strategies political consulting firm has confirmed that they will manage the independent expenditure (IE) campaign for the Coalition for School Reform.

Meantime, three individual candidates — both union-endorsed and otherwise — have hired SG&A Campaigns to manage their campaigns.

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UTLA-PACE’s Robust Campaign Chest

As the 2013 race for three LAUSD School Board seats heats up, so will the political fundraising that pays for the candidates’ campaigns. Just as they have in recent elections, independent expenditure (IE) committees are again likely to eclipse direct donations to candidates’ campaigns.

At least one IE committee is ahead of the game: UTLA-PACE, the political action council of the teachers union. While the latest number won’t be available until the next filing deadline in January, as of June 30th, UTLA-PACE already showed $634,901 in its account.

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