Fact-checking the most negative LA school board race in years
Since 2007, when L.A. voters decided to limit direct contributions to school board candidates, outside political groups purchasing their own election ads or consultants — "independent expenditures" — have come to dominate school board races in the nation's second-largest district.
Now, more of those expenditures are going negative than ever before: this year's $1.8 million in negative independent expenditures is a higher total than in any previous L.A. Unified race.
Nearly two-thirds of that money has been spent against Zimmer, who's running against three challengers for his seat in Board District Four.
In total, political relatives of the California Charter Schools Association, including the Parent Teacher Alliance and a group called L.A. Students for Change, have spent nearly $1.5 million to oppose Zimmer in the March 7 primary — more than any single candidate has ever faced against them since the contribution rules changed.
The pro-charter school groups have also spent just as much on ads supporting the two Zimmer challengers they endorsed, Nick Melvoin and Allison Holdorff Polhill.
Zimmer's allies in the city's teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, have rushed to his defense, spending more than $303,000 to oppose Melvoin and Holdorff Polhill.
A fourth candidate, Gregory Martayan, has said the influence of big money is "destroying grassroots efforts" in the race. Martayan has not been the victim or beneficiary of any independent expenditures.
The race has featured dozens of mailers, emails, canvassing stops and even a handful of video ads geared both for social media and for TV. We'll fact-check a few that have caused a stir:
Steve Zimmer's 2013 vote to support iPad purchases
A consistent theme of the charter school groups' ads opposing Zimmer was his 2013 vote in favor of then-Superintendent John Deasy's $1.3 billion plan to purchase an iPad for every L.A. Unified student. While many of the ads mention the controversy, this L.A. Students for Change television ad gives it top billing.
The software from publishing giant Pearson that came pre-loaded on the tablet computers was never fully functional and the district cancelled the program in 2014Audio: Fact-checking the most negative LA school board race in years | 89.3 KPCC: