Under the Influence: Money and Power in Politics
Hillel Aron: February 2011 Archives

Behind the School Board Races: Reformers With Deep Pockets

Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad gave $150,000 to the newly launched Coalition for School Reform. (Creative Commons licensed by flickr user <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelevanetarchives/4559018735/'>Michael Evanet Archives</a>)As we reported last week, independent expenditures in the four Board of Education races are approaching $1 million. The races are largely a pitched battle between the United Teachers Union of Los Angeles and a group called the Coalition for School Reform.

In three out of four races, the Coalition has heavily outspent the UTLA (see chart after the jump). As of the last filing deadline in January, they'd raised more than $1 million and still had more than $800,000 left. With the UTLA withdrawing support from two of their candidates earlier in the month the Coalition appears to be cruising towards an unexpectedly easy victory.

But where did all that money come from?

Rich people, mostly.

Bernard Parks v. Unions

(From Bernard Parks's Facebook page)No one was really expecting Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks to have much trouble defeating Forescee Hogan-Rowles in the upcoming city election. But that was before big labor got involved with the race for Council District 8.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO has spent more than $80,000 in support of Hogan-Rowles, and the IBEW—the electrical workers union—more than $125,000. Through an innocuously named group, Working Californians to Support Forescee Hogan-Rowles, the IBEW is prepared to spend almost a quarter million more on the race. And Hogan-Rowles has drawn further endorsements from the SEIU local 721, the firefighter's union and the policemen's union, which just put in its opening ante on Friday: $47,550 for Hogan-Rowles and $54,000 for radio ads attacking Parks.

So why do the unions have it in for Bernard Parks?