Thursday, October 11, 2007

corruption, vouchers, and results

(screen shots courtesy of
Remember this investigative reporting by KSL's John Daley?
We followed a money trail that led to the likes of Wal-mart, Amway, and others. We followed the money, looked at contribution filings and found there was plenty of campaign cash on both sides of the voucher debate. Money on the pro-voucher side was in much bigger sums, half of it coming from out of state.
In the House there was a similar show of loyalty to the side that gave the money -- 96 percent who got money from the pro-voucher group voted for and 78 percent who got money from the other side voted against.
The biggest financial force in the voucher fight is a national pro-voucher organization called All Children Matter, based in Michigan. Its funders include the son of a former Amway billionaire and an heir to the Wal-mart fortune.

The political action committee for Parents for Choice in Education took in half a million dollars last year; half came from out-of-state, $240,000 from All Children Matter.
Now we hear more stories of [the appearance of] corruption from the same people that voted for vouchers against their constituents' desires.
At separate events, lawmakers dined at Locke-Ober and Clio, a pair of the finest restaurants in the city. The bill for the two meals ran over $10,000 combined, divided up among at 15 lobbyists who attended the National Conference of State Legislators' gathering.
On Aug. 6, a group of lawmakers, including Senate President John Valentine, ate at the posh Clio Restaurant, a contemporary French-inspired locale, where the soup will run you $14.
At last year's conference in Nashville, the legislators were treated to a dinner cruise on The General Jackson.
On Aug. 8, Comcast lobbyist Steven Proper threw his own bash, spending $3,445 feeding lawmakers at an event in the Boston suburb of Essex, his report shows.
The Utah Senate majority leader says his two-week Italian trip with two longtime friends, who also happen to be lobbyists, last month was above board and "not one dime" of his trip was paid for by the lobbyists.
About a year ago, [Sen. Curt] Bramble said, Stan Lockhart, who he regularly goes boating with on Lake Powell, called him, asking if he would be interested in sharing the cost of a trip to central Italy. Utah County Commission Chairman Steve White was actually at an auction/fund-raising event for the local Boys and Girls Club and was bidding on the trip as they spoke.
White ultimately paid $4,100 for a villa in a town about 80 miles north of Rome. It ended up that that cost was split four ways by the four couples, and each couple paid their own travel costs.

Lockhart is the lobbyist for Micron, a large computer-chip maker that has a plant in northern Utah County. Rogers carries a long list of clients and as a partner in the Tetris Group lobbying and government consultant firm is one of the most successful lobbyists on Utah's Capitol Hill.
Gee, I wonder why he is so successful. Now maybe these two men became lobbyists because they were good friends with Bramble, rather than became friends because they were lobbyists, but it hardly matters, the results are the same.

Oh and remember that Milwaukee study that showed vouchers had no positive impact on student outcomes nor did they improve public schools? Or the other study that found private schooling alone does not make a difference for at risk youth? Now there is a study from DC's vouchers system, started in 2004 by the Republican Congress and now studied by the independent, nonpartisan Government Accountability Office and it found that the lack of DC's controls lead to kids being in terrible private schools. And since Utah can't even figure out how many schools have failing grades (turns out 52% not the mid-70s as previously announced), the lack of controls in the voucher bill itself is a real concern.

But don't worry, voucher supporters will hold fake townhall meetings to convince you otherwise, in between posh dinners in Boston, Nashville, and two week vacations in Italy with lobbyists. And don't forget Hillary Clinton is some how all behind this, I mean it isn't like she is busy running for president or anything.


JM Bell said...

Now THAT was a great break down. How come only bloggers and The Daily Show are the only folks who can find the commonality between groups, topics and previous reports?

What is the point of Freedom of the Press if the Press defines Freedom as "free to just repeat what we're told to repeat by corporate"?

Obi wan liberali said...

I'm sure glad that our legislators are beyond being influenced by money. Finally, I can sleep well at night.

Rob said...

Great post!

Misty Fowler said...

Sadly, I bet that not enough people care that anything will change because of this. It might influence the voucher debate somewhat, but it won't influence whether these people remain in office after such blatant crooked acts.