Betsy DeVos is feeling her oats these days, with a big push in Michigan to finally install education savings accounts--those neo-vouchers beloved by her crowd. Trouble is, her crowd hasn't been able to convince voters to share the love. But because of an odd quirk in Michigan law, the folks at Let MI Kids Learn have a shot at doing an end run around the voters and the governor. Just 8% of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial race can send the petition to the legislature, where it can be voted up or down and the governor doesn't even have a veto option.
So who is backing this play for neo-voucher ESAs in Michigan? Is it a groundswell of grass roots support? Are the common people rising up to back their beloved benefactress and her pet project (last seen as a failed attempt to offer national Education Freedom Scholarships)?
Nah. Of course not.
Let's take a look at the Michigan State Department statement for the April quarter and see who's throwing money at this stuff this year (there's more information to be found looking into previous quarters).
Top of the list-- Oberndorf Enterprises of San Francisco (the one in California, not some San Francisco, Michigan, that you've never heard of). Oberndorf Enterprises is a sort of pass-through outfit through which the Oberndorf's donate to some of their favorite things, including school choice. Wiliam Oberndorf is the current chairman of the board for American Federation for Children, the pro-choice advocacy group he founded with Betsy DeVos.
Oberndorf is in for a cool quarter million.
At least they're actual Michigan residents. But big big bucks are coming from DC via the State Government Leadership Foundation, a conservative money-moving operation which just kicked in $250K and $140K, bringing their grand total so far up way over the half mill mark.
Daniel DeVos kicked in $100,000 (that's Betsy's brother-in-law).
Tony De Nicola also in for $100K. He's with the New York/San Franciso firm of Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe, though he lives in Florida. Richard Haworth (Mackinac Center board) and David Fischer (car salesman), both of Michigan, each contributed $100,000.
The Michigan Guardians of Democracy kicked in $50. GLEP (Great Lakes Education Project) Education Fund, another DeVos organization, contributed work in the form of staff and facilities,. because what good is financing an organization if you can't just redirect them to work for your own project?
Elsa Prince Broekhuizen gave $25,000; that's Betsy DeVos's mother. Mark Murray gave $10K, Alan Hoekstra $5K. Mighty Michigan did some work for the campaign.
And now we're down to the grass roots. Five guys gave $100. Two people made $50 contributions. Six people chipped in $25, and one person contributed $20.
So, fourteen grass roots supporters this quarter. If this thing becomes law, it will be because a bunch of rich folks backed it, not because of any upswelling from the Regular Folks. Michigan is in danger of providing a graphic example of Oligarchy. Here's hoping it fails.