Independent groups backing the two candidates for state superintendent of public instruction reloaded their campaigns with millions of dollars in contributions this week, as the race heads toward Nov. 4 with a crescendo of spending.

Nine wealthy backers of Marshall Tuck – led by $1 million donations each from William Bloomfield of Manhattan Beach and Eli Broad, a longtime funder of reform efforts in Los Angeles – seeded a new independent expenditure committee with $4 million. That brought outside fundraising for Tuck nearly even with outside fundraising by the California Teachers Association, the biggest financial backer of Supt. Tom Torlakson. The CTA contributed an additional $1.4 million this week to the $5.7 million it has already contributed to Torlakson. The new donations, as of Oct. 10, will push expected spending by groups not affiliated with the candidates to about $14 million, split about 40 percent for Tuck and 60 percent for Torlakson.

The two candidates themselves have raised about $4.4 million in direct contributions as of Oct. 10, mirroring in campaign funding what a recent Field poll suggests is a hotly contested race, with many voters still undecided. That combined total is already more than twice the total raised by the candidates in the 2010 election, in which Torlakson defeated a retired school district superintendent, Larry Aceves. As of the latest campaign finance disclosure period, which ended Sept. 30, Torlakson had about $608,000 left in the bank, while Tuck had close to $700,000.

The new donations, as of Oct. 10, will push expected spending by groups not affiliated with the candidates to about $14 million, split about 40 percent for Tuck and 60 percent for Torlakson.

Candidates are limited in how much money they can receive in direct contributions from donors. Individuals are allowed to contribute up to $6,800 for a primary election and another $6,800 for a general election. All other donors, such as political action committees and businesses, are capped at $13,600 per primary election, and the same amount for a general election.

Independent spending groups

There are no contribution limits on donors who give to independent expenditure committees, which by law cannot be affiliated with the candidates in an election, and that’s where the bulk of giving is going.

Parents and Teachers for Tuck For State Superintendent of Public Instruction 2014 is the new committee that Tuck backers created this week; most of the donors had contributed to Tuck through other independent expenditure committees in the primary election. The nine initial donors to the committee and their contributions as of Oct. 10 are:

  • Bloomfield, the chairman of Web Service Co., Inc., $1 million;
  • Broad, founder of The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundations, $1 million;**
  • Doris Fisher of San Francisco, co-founder of the Gap clothing stores and prime funder of KIPP charter schools, $500,000;
  • Laurene Powell Jobs of Palo Alto, chair of the Emerson Collective, an advocacy organization, and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, $500,000;
  • John Douglas Arnold of Summit Hill, N.J., a retired hedge fund investor and philanthropist, $300,000;
  • Arthur Rock of San Francisco, an early Silicon Valley venture capitalist and charter school funder, $250,000;
  • Richard Lundquist of El Segundo, president of Continental Development Corp., a real estate company, $250,000;
  • John Scully of  Mill Valley, managing partner of SPO Partners & Co., an investment firm, $200,000;
  • Tench Coxe, of Palo Alto, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, $50,000.

Before this week’s infusion of cash, Tuck benefited from $1.7 million in outside spending from California Senior Advocates League, a committee funded largely by Bloomfield, Broad and the Continental Development Corp., and the independent committee Women for Good Government. The California Senior Advocates League spent about $1 million supporting Tuck through robo calls, ad buys and and mailers. Bloomfield, who formed his own personal independent expenditure committee, spent close to $900,000 supporting Tuck, mainly through slate mailers.

The California Teachers Association has spent about $5.7 million: $1.7 million on ads and other spending supporting Torlakson and opposing Tuck and $4 million on issue advocacy ads supporting Torlakson but not expressly calling for his election. An example is this ad endorsing Torlakson’s Blueprint for Great Schools. This week’s $1.4 million contribution went to “Torlakson for Superintendent: Major Funding by CTA,” which, as of Sept. 30, spent $1.4 million supporting Torlakson through mailers, radio ad buys and other activities, and $1.2 million opposing Tuck, mainly through radio ad buys. The committee has raised the most of any fundraising committee involved in a statewide race so far this election, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission website.

The California Democratic Party also reported this week spending $241,000 on postage and printing in independent spending for Torlakson.

Asked about his candidate’s support from the CTA, Paul Hefner, spokesman for the Torlakson campaign, wrote in an email, “Tom bases his decisions upon what’s best for kids. He is proud to be supported by the classroom teachers who have made the education of California’s children their life’s work, but he is beholden to no one.” He dismissed the independent expenditure committee for Tuck as being “bankrolled by people who opposed investing in public schools.”

Asked about her candidate’s support from wealthy donors, Cynara Lilly, spokeswoman for Tuck, wrote in an email, “From day one, Marshall has been running to be an independent voice – representing parents and kids. Simply put, the situation – Tom’s money from CTA and Marshall’s support – are not analogous. It’s understandable that CTA is spending big for Tom Torlakson – he’s been in lockstep with them for decades.”

Contributions to candidates

Separate from independent expenditure groups, Torlakson has been raising money for his re-election since 2011, putting him slightly ahead of Tuck in fundraising. Torlakson has raised about $2.4 million in contributions to his campaign so far. But Tuck has outraised Torlakson by $161,000 in direct contributions in the three-month reporting period that ended Sept. 30. He raised $780,000 in cash and non-monetary contributions, to Torlakson’s $619,000. Over the past week, Tuck raised an additional $168,000, while Torlakson’s campaign added $110,000 in donations of $1,000 or more, according to the political website Around the Capitol.

Unions, particularly trade and teachers unions, have dug deeply into their pockets, giving Torlakson about $1 million in direct contributions while Tuck has received no union contributions. About $100,000 of Torlakson’s money came from various political action committees and locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry.

Other unions that gave include the American Federation of Teachers; the California School Employees Association, representing non-certificated school employees such as bus drivers and classroom aides; and the Peace Officers Research Association of California. Torlakson also raised about $80,000 from 32 campaign committees of other politicians, including outgoing California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, California Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, and Fresno County Board of Supervisors candidate Blong Xiong.

Tuck, former CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, started fundraising in August 2013 but has managed to keep pace with Torlakson, raising $2.2 million since then. Tuck has also received about 500 more contributions than Torlakson. While Tuck has not received money from unions or other candidates, he has received more than $500,000 from individuals who identify themselves as retired, homemakers, or not employed.

Tuck received close to $40,000 in individual donations from employees of Acre Investment Company, LLC, a San Francisco-based investment firm. He also received the maximum donations of $6,800 each from Eli and Edythe Broad, and Stephen and Susan Chamberlin, founders of the Chamberlin Family Foundation, which focuses on education reform in California. Prominent charter school advocates who have given maximum amounts to Tuck include  Arthur Rock and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dan Schnur, executive director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, said that in the absence of other highly competitive statewide races, “the opportunity exists for this campaign to move center stage. Both campaigns will have enough money for some statewide advertising, and will also attract more news coverage.”

The amount of money pouring into the race itself may become a big issue, Schnur added. “The irony is that you have two smart candidates with two legitimate schools of thought on policy,” he said. But it may come down to perception: “whether voters are more suspicious of wealthy individuals trying to buy the race for one candidate or wealthy unions trying to buy it for the other.”

** Correction: An earlier version identified Eli Broad as CEO of SunAmerica. He sold the company and retired as CEO in 2000.

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  1. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    This shaping as a case of organized money v. organized teachers and other organized working people. It is a contest that has long been a part of the cycle of American history with the malefactors of great wealth winning some battles and the middle and working classes winning others. As MLK said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." The nation and its economy has been much better off when the … Read More

    This shaping as a case of organized money v. organized teachers and other organized working people. It is a contest that has long been a part of the cycle of American history with the malefactors of great wealth winning some battles and the middle and working classes winning others. As MLK said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” The nation and its economy has been much better off when the middle-class and workers have been in the ascendancy.

    If justice is done the office of SPI will continue to be filled by a real teacher with an MA in Education, and he will overcome a real Wall Street operator with an MA in Business Administration.

    It is a contest those committed to justice and social equity should be happy to engage in but, if things go south, there will be collateral damage with further erosion of support for increased resources for education by the the minions of the 1%.

    And, speaking of the 1% of the list of Tuck supporters mentioned above who are also, besides Broad, mentioned in the LA Times article about “Dark Money” used to subvert the campaign for Prop 30, was the Fisher family of the GAP.

    BTW, the Dark Money went not only to support Prop 32, meant to curtail unions’ ability to get things like Prop 30 passed but, according to the Times, was used to try and defeat Prop 30 directly. So Broad’s public support for Prop 30 while secretly funding the campaign against Prop 30 is the very essence of hypocrisy.

    And I’m not sure of the reference to “Summit Hill, NJ,” but there is a John D. Arnold of Texas who is retired from the hedge fund game who made his fortune working at ENRON and who now has so much money to wallow in that he dedicates large parts of it try to threaten the modest but secure retirement pensions of teachers and other public employees. It has been reported that it is this Arnold who is supporting Tuck.

    So, you have the Dark Money folks as referenced by the LA Times, Broad and Fisher, trying to further undermine CA’s deplorable levels of support for education (via opposition to Prop 30) and then an ENRON guy. What was the saying about “all the usual suspects?”

    Another BTW: try and find Tuck’s public record on support for Prop 30. Which he says he supported. As did Broad. Yep. Then there was an announcement from Silicon Valley types in support of Tuck that actually uses an Ayn Rand quote to support their “case.” A hoot.

  2. CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

    What's your definition of "outside," John and John? The unions represent the teachers, who are in every sense of the word stakeholders in the schools and districts under the superintendent's jurisdiction. That's not "outside" money, unless there's some technical definition in the jargon of campaign funding. (It's currently a pervasive meme/trope/cliche in the "reform" sector to portray teachers' union donations as exactly equivalent to donations from tech moguls, hedge funders and the like.) Read More

    What’s your definition of “outside,” John and John? The unions represent the teachers, who are in every sense of the word stakeholders in the schools and districts under the superintendent’s jurisdiction. That’s not “outside” money, unless there’s some technical definition in the jargon of campaign funding. (It’s currently a pervasive meme/trope/cliche in the “reform” sector to portray teachers’ union donations as exactly equivalent to donations from tech moguls, hedge funders and the like.)

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Your correct, Caroline, it is "inside" money from the CTA, not outside money - money that is extracted from the wallets of teachers with or without their permission and funneled into the campaigns of politicians with or without their permission. The campaigns back those politicians who back efforts to increase union hegemony over education and around it goes. Your idea of what's fair is a construct designed to predetermine the outcome. It's … Read More

      Your correct, Caroline, it is “inside” money from the CTA, not outside money – money that is extracted from the wallets of teachers with or without their permission and funneled into the campaigns of politicians with or without their permission. The campaigns back those politicians who back efforts to increase union hegemony over education and around it goes.

      Your idea of what’s fair is a construct designed to predetermine the outcome. It’s true teachers are stakeholders, but what about the other stakeholders – the ones with the constitutional protections – the students? The other stake holders are the state that cannot fund campaigns and the end users – the students and their parents/guardians. What well-funded organization do they turn to to lobby for their interests – the SPTA with its paltry resources?

      That said, is it your contention that individual citizens should not be able exercise their constitutional rights to fund campaigns as long as they follow election laws, just because they are rich? What is your point anyways?

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Correction: The second “with or without their permission was supposed to be deleted’.

      • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

        My point was to question the description of teachers’ union donations as “outside” money.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        There can't be no influence at all. If the influence doesn't come from the people who work in classrooms every day (at to be honest, to done extent I expect the state 'relies' on unions for that expertise) then it will be from your venture capitalists. Seems like a no-brainer. I'm all for removing money altogether from politics but but that's about as likely to happen as no one in the world going hungry. Read More

        There can’t be no influence at all. If the influence doesn’t come from the people who work in classrooms every day (at to be honest, to done extent I expect the state ‘relies’ on unions for that expertise) then it will be from your venture capitalists. Seems like a no-brainer.
        I’m all for removing money altogether from politics but but that’s about as likely to happen as no one in the world going hungry.

    • John C. Osborn 2 years ago2 years ago

      “Outside” meaning not directly affiliated with the candidate’s campaign.

  3. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    List unmasks secret donors to California initiative campaigns (excerpted) October 24, 2013|By Anthony York (LA Times) .A state investigation into a network of nonprofit groups that funneled $11 million into initiative campaigns in California last year has revealed the identities of dozens of previously hidden donors to the various organizations. The groups they donated to gave money to other organizations, which gave to the campaigns. One of the campaigns was an effort to derail a 2012 tax measure pushed … Read More

    List unmasks secret donors to California initiative campaigns (excerpted)
    October 24, 2013|By Anthony York (LA Times)

    .A state investigation into a network of nonprofit groups that funneled $11 million into initiative campaigns in California last year has revealed the identities of dozens of previously hidden donors to the various organizations.
    The groups they donated to gave money to other organizations, which gave to the campaigns.
    One of the campaigns was an effort to derail a 2012 tax measure pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown — which Broad had said he supported. The other supported a separate initiative that would have limited the power of labor unions to raise political cash.

    From Politico (excerpted below)

    Dan Schnur
    For years, Dan was one of California’s leading political and media strategists, whose record includes work on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns. Schnur served as the national Director of Communications for the 2000 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain and spent five years as chief media spokesman for California Governor Pete Wilson.

    Schnur began his political career in the press office of the Reagan-Bush ’84 presidential campaign. He later served as a spokesman for the Bush-Quayle ’88 presidential campaign, and worked in the press offices of the Republican National Committee before moving to California in 1990 to take on the position of Communications Director of the state Republican Party.

    He has served as an advisor to the William & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Broad Education Foundation…”

    o o o o o o o

    So, we have the entry of Eli Broad, that “renowned supporter” of education, into the contest. Broad publicly supported Prop 30 (who, as an education supporter, would not?) but “secretly” funded efforts to defeat Prop 30 and supported Prop 32 intended to cripple teachers’ unions abilities to accomplish political endeavors–like Prop 30! The infamous “Dark Money” incident. Defeated at the polls the same “usual suspects” have supported Vergara and now, obviously, Tuck.

    And then we have the always objective political analyst, Dan Schnurr who asserts some moral equivalency between the political dollars put forward by the collective action of tens of thousands of teachers (as well as other unionized workers) and the dollars put forward by a couple of one-percenters to further their personal interests. And their personal interests are not the same interests of CA’s schools and children. As Politico notes, Schnurr actually worked for Broad interests as well as Gov Wilson, Reagan, Bush Senior, the NRP, and McCain. Who could be more “objective” I ask?

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Gary, your comment is offensive to democratic principles and extraordinarily disingenuous. There was absolutely no hypocrisy in supporting Prop 30 and more money for education while also supporting limitations on campaign contributions. Here's how ballotpedia summarized 32: Banned corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates. Banned contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them. Banned automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics. Please … Read More

      Gary, your comment is offensive to democratic principles and extraordinarily disingenuous. There was absolutely no hypocrisy in supporting Prop 30 and more money for education while also supporting limitations on campaign contributions.

      Here’s how ballotpedia summarized 32:

      Banned corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates.
      Banned contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them.
      Banned automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages
      to be used for politics.

      Please give us a break. I think people here on Ed Source are smarter than this.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        You want to predetermine all outcomes. The Teacher's Union should be the only one allowed to donate large amounts of money. If anyone else donates money, they should be discredited to the point where their money doesn't add votes, but the union's money can add votes. If we follow your rules, Gary and Caroline, the union determines all educational policy, tenure, seniority, LIFO, in the State and we continue to blame poverty and parenting … Read More

        You want to predetermine all outcomes. The Teacher’s Union should be the only one allowed to donate large amounts of money. If anyone else donates money, they should be discredited to the point where their money doesn’t add votes, but the union’s money can add votes.

        If we follow your rules, Gary and Caroline, the union determines all educational policy, tenure, seniority, LIFO, in the State and we continue to blame poverty and parenting exclusively while making no efforts to improve teacher quality. The union will be dictator, which is essentially what has happened for the past 50 years while California schools went from #1 to Low 40s. We’ve tried it it’s failed, and Gary and Caroline want to keep trying.

        You could double funding, if you don’t change teacher quality and parenting and effort, the money will go for naught. They spend 30k per student in DC and have worse results than us. The union controls everything. They ran Michelle Rhee out of town for challenging it. You’re like the people who wanted to go on insisting the world was flat as long as possible. This technique will never work.

        • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

          I didn’t espouse any rules. I questioned the description of teachers’ union donations as “outside” money.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Right, you want to characterize forced dues as inside money, but then complain if wealthy donors contribute it is "outside money" which you are trying to imply is somehow wrong and should make people vote against their donations. PTSAs don't represent students, they're dominated by the unions as well. There is no voice of students other than some small nonprofits like Students First. Try discussing a bad teacher situation at a PTSA … Read More

            Right, you want to characterize forced dues as inside money, but then complain if wealthy donors contribute it is “outside money” which you are trying to imply is somehow wrong and should make people vote against their donations. PTSAs don’t represent students, they’re dominated by the unions as well. There is no voice of students other than some small nonprofits like Students First. Try discussing a bad teacher situation at a PTSA or PTA meeting and you are quickly silenced. You could be in the old Soviet Union. It’s over.

            The only hope there is of changing the status quo is if some wealthy individuals help or there is a massive uprising of parents, but we all know that is unlikely. The union wants no change in the status quo. If you think California’s education is going great, vote for Torlakson. Tuck wants meaningful change, change which would actually make a difference in test scores and the achievement gap. I don’t see how Torlakson’s philosophy will change anything as it’s the same thing we’ve had for 50 years plus. I see no proposed change. I’ve seen this first hand, in San Francisco parents have no certainty of getting their kids into a school nearby. A group of parents tried to change this, but this was seen as a threat so the union spent a lot of money to defeat it and made the dishonest claim kids would switch schools mid year. This caused just enough neighborhood schools supporters to vote against it and it lost at 49.96%, and yes it was symbolic, but it just lost due to the union putting lies in everyone’s mailbox. The truth is it would have probably been ignored for several years, but eventually led to change, but it was a threat to the status quo so they went after it “by any means necessary” including a false claim kids would be forcibly kicked out of schools they were already in.

            The union opposes a change in tenure because, well, it’s change. In the last lay offs, we watched known bad teachers survive and good young teachers pushed out. An opportunity to clear out dead wood to benefit children as companies often do because merely an exercise in counting years. Tuck wants to change this. Torlakson wants it all to be based on seniority.