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StudentsFirst: Mismatched Donors, Endorsements, and Contributions?

Michelle rhee book coverIt's not just reform critics and professional opponents who are seeking to define Michelle Rhee's school reform advocacy as predominantly right-leaning and Republican -- and so far at least StudentsFirst seems to be going along with it.

There's no argument that some of the organization's biggest funders like the Walton Family Foundation have Republican roots, or that Rhee will work with Republicans to get policy priorities moved ahead.

But increasingly, mainstream media press accounts of StudentsFirst are describing StudentsFirst's political advocacy (campaign endorsements and contributions) as Republican, too.

The latest example is today's LA Times piece:  "Nationwide, StudentsFirst has overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates, because they best match its policy platform."

The first part of that sentence is where I'm confused.  (About the second half of the sentence, I'd observe that only Rhee's support for the trigger and vouchers -- and her willingness to work across the aisle -- mark her as anything other than a mainstream Democrat.)

The question about Rhee's endorsements and contributions first started coming up for me last Fall, when readers started noting that SF's endorsees in Florida were Republican (See  Eighty Candidates Endorsed By StudentsFirst). It came up again after the general election when I was trying to tally the advocacy groups' performance (See So How'd The Advocacy Groups Do?*).

More recently, StudentsFirst keeps telling me that endorsements are one thing, campaign contributions are another.  But so far, at least, they've not provided any documentation about the direct contributions and superPAC contributions in the states they're involved with. All we have are lists of endorsements, which do indeed skew Republican.

The reason I've been asking is that my own limited experience with StudentsFirst and campaign contributions is that they're mostly Democratic.  This includes giving to LAUSD school board candidates, and trying to get Brian Johnson and others elected. (See CA StudentsFirst Candidate Squeaks Through*). 

Is the press getting this wrong and falling for an attack that isn't accurate, or am I just working off of incomplete information?


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you're working from incomplete information --- state campaign finance records are an open book of StudentsFirst candidate contributions which are heavily skewed republican as well

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