Hijacked By Billionaires: How The Super Rich Buy Elections To Undermine Public Schools

An Network for Public Education Action Investigative Report

This report provides some insight into how the very wealthy insert themselves into local elections through direct contributions, Independent Expenditure Committees and even non-profit organizations. We focus on nine elections to provide insight into how in races large and small, some very wealthy Americans are trying to control the education of our nation’s children while undermining the anchor of our local communities—the neighborhood public school.

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Newark: New York Billionaires Flood a New Jersey Mayoral Election with Cash Perth Amboy, New Jersey: Big Money Floods a Small School Board Race
In 2014, two candidates ran for mayor of Newark, New Jersey seeking to fill a special election vacancy created when the prior mayor, Cory Booker, took the place of deceased New Jersey Senator, Frank Lautenberg. The candidates were Ras Baraka and Shavar Jeffries. Baraka was the six-year principal of Newark’s
Central High School and a South Ward Councilman. Jeffries was the founding Board President of Newark’s Team Academy Charter
School – part of the KIPP Network of charters and a former Assistant Attorney General. Early in the race it became clear that the future of public education in Newark would be a pivotal issue in the campaign.

Newark >>

Perth Amboy, New Jersey is “a 4.5 square mile
municipality located along the shores of the beautiful Raritan Bay in Middlesex County.” The district operates five elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Its nine-member board of education is elected at large,
with three seats open for election every three years.If an unexpired seat is vacated, that seat is filled in the next election.

What follows is the odd story of how a small school board race in a relatively unknown town became a magnet for out of state donors, whose names will not be unfamiliar to those who have been reading this report.

Perth Amboy >>