Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipients of Rich voucher funds identified

The State newspaper performed a public service this weekend by publishing a list of legislators who received funding from Howard Rich, the New Yorker voucher ideologue who has invested millions in buying pro-voucher public policy across the nation.

The list includes members of both parties and in both houses, although a voucher bill has never gotten to the Senate for consideration before this year.

But the list is incomplete, The State notes, because it doesn't include the funding received from Rich's "associates".

Lawmakers who received campaign cash from New York school-choice advocate Howard Rich from 2008 to 2011:

In the House

Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville: $1,000

Liston Barfield, R-Horry: $3,000

House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, R-Lexington: $5,000

Don Bowen, R-Anderson: $14,000

Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg: $1,000

Tom Corbin, R-Greenville: $9,000

Kris Crawford, R-Florence: $10,500

Bill Crosby, R-Charleston: $5,000

Greg Delleney, R-Chester: $5,000

Tracy Edge, R-Horry: $9,000

Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort: $2,500

Dan Hamilton, R-Greenville: $2,000

Nelson Hardwick, R-Horry: $5,000

Jim Harrison, R-Richland: $4,000

Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville: $10,000

Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort: $6,000

Bill Hixon, R-Aiken: $2,000

Chip Huggins, R-Lexington: $2,000

Phillip Lowe, R-Florence: $7,000

Peter McCoy, R-Charleston: $7,000

Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley: $5,000

Dennis Moss, R-Cherokee: $5,000

Chris Murphy, R-Dorchester: $1,000

Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville: $14,000

Andy Patrick, R-Beaufort: $1,000

Mike Pitts, R-Laurens: $5,000

Tommy Pope, R-York: $7,000

Josh Putnam, R-Anderson: $1,000

Rick Quinn, R-Lexington: $9,000

Gary Simrill, R-York: $5,000

Roland Smith, R-Aiken: $5,000

Mike Sottile, R-Charleston: $9,000

Kit Spires, R-Lexington: $2,000

Tommy Stringer, R-Greenville: $5,000

Bill Taylor, R-Aiken: $5,000

Anne Thayer, R-Anderson: $3,000

David Tribble, R-Laurens: $1,000

Brian White, R-Anderson: $500

In the Senate

Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson: $5,000

William O’Dell, R-Abbeville: $5,000

Mike Fair, R-Greenville: $3,000

Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg: $41,000

Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken: $2,000

Mike Rose, R-Dorchester: $7,000

Robert Ford, D-Charleston: $18,000, including $14,000 for Ford’s 2010 gubernatorial bid

Tom Davis, R-Beaufort: $11,000

Darrell Jackson, D-Richland: $9,000

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee: $3,000

Chip Campsen, R-Charleston: $1,000

NOTE: Listed donations do not include thousands of additional dollars donated by Rich’s associates.

The State's coverage also included a rare question-and-answer with Rich himself, in which he noted that because he doesn't own property or have any other financial stake in the state, his intervention is entirely ideological in nature:

Howard Rich, a millionaire New York real estate investor, has been funding school-choice efforts in South Carolina for years. Libertarian-leaning and low-profile, Rich has been hesitant to speak with the S.C. media. But he did answer some questions last week from The State newspaper about his involvement in the school-choice debate.

Q. How will this legislation benefit S.C. families?

The legislation passed by the S.C. House of Representatives is a framework for giving parents more control over the education of their children. Given the continuing low performance of S.C. public schools, I would think the benefits to more parental involvement would be self-evident. What strikes me as most important about the House legislation is the consensus that Ways and Means Chairman Brian White was able to forge. Is this the legislation I would have written? No. Is this an acceptable framework that has been developed to meet South Carolina conditions, created by South Carolinians with the support of a wide array of groups and individuals? Yes, I think it is. That in itself is a benefit. It is a coming together of all interested parties to begin to address a serious and ongoing problem.

Q. Much has been made about donations from your LLCs and associates to S.C. lawmakers who favor school-choice legislation. Can you talk about why you chose South Carolina as a place to support such candidates?

I make donations to candidates in many states. As in my response to your first question, South Carolina trails almost all states in a bunch of categories so there’s a great need for choice and significant potential upside.

Q. I take it you still own no property here in South Carolina and, thus, do not directly benefit from the passage of any school-choice legislation. Is that still accurate?

It is still the case that I do not own any property in South Carolina or have anything to gain personally from passage of school choice legislation. I support efforts like this because I believe in freedom of choice and a parent’s right to have a say in the education of their children. Nothing more.

Q. Do you think the bill can pass the S.C. Senate?

You ask if the school choice bill passed by the House of Representatives can pass the S.C. Senate — I don’t know. Of course, I hope the bill passes out of the Senate, but I am not a lobbyist and certainly don’t have a crystal ball. If it does it will be a huge opportunity for a lot of middle and low-income families. That would be great.

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