Charter group money flooded local election, but many donors live far away
Big campaign spending from outside interests, including charter school advocates, helped propel a slew of state legislative candidates out of primaries onto November ballots. But in many cases, the candidates groups opposed also advanced, setting up costly general election rematches.
The flood of charter spending comes from a trio of groups that support the expansion of charter schools: committees representing EdVoice, California Charter School Association Advocates, and the Parent Teacher Alliance.
The PTA spent more than $1.4 million on a single Southern California Assembly race, accounting for more than 70 percent of the outside money in that contest.
While that spending could shape education policy across the state, a significant chunk of the PTA's financing arrives from across state and district lines.
The Parent Teacher Alliance has received $3.2 million in contributions since March 1, according to Secretary of State records. That funding has arrived indirectly from donors: the data shows California Charter Schools Association Advocates' political spending committee as the only donor to the PTA.
Most in-state donations to the CCSA Advocates committee come from Northern California, and recent donors list addresses outside the Southern California district where the group spent heavily.
CCSA Advocates are a well-known education reform player, and a fixture in Los Angeles debates over charters.The number of people and groups who have donated significant sums to the group is relatively limited. At 23, it's smaller than the average LAUSD kindergarten class.
Charter-backed candidates advanced in primary
The local election will feature a rematch between Democrats Laura Friedman and Ardy Kassakhian, both Glendale city officials vying to represent 43rd Assembly District in Sacramento. The district also encompasses Burbank and neighborhoods of Los Angeles including Los Feliz and the Hollywood Hills.
Charter interests weren't the only groups spending big there before June's primary. Real estate groups and teachers unions backed Kassakhain.
But 70 percent of the $2 million in outside political spending in that race came from the Parent Teacher Alliance. It spent $1.1 million to support Friedman and another $355,264 to defeat Kassakhian, the most spent by a charter group to oppose any candidate.
Statewide, the three charter groups spent more than $500,000 in seven races. The Charter group money flooded local election, but many donors live far away | 89.3 KPCC: