School choice proponents, many from out of state, funneled $64,000 directly into candidates’ coffers in 2014, through AFC and another group. (The AFC-affiliated funder, Wisconsin Federation for Children Political Fund, filed its last report Nov. 26, a month late, risking a penalty of up to $500. Its Washington, D.C.-based administrator did not respond to an emailed question about the late filing.)
In addition, AFC made independent expenditures of $866,000 to boost or oppose candidates. This adds to the nearly $10 million in state electoral spending by school choice proponents between 2003 and 2012, as tallied by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
AFC’s spending in the Nov. 4 elections included $148,000 to help narrowly defeat Democrat Rep. Mandy Wright, a former teacher and school choice critic. It spent $123,000 to help Republican Todd Novak score a razor-thin win over Democrat Dick Cates. And it poured $240,000 into GOP choice proponent Howard Marklein’s successful bid for an open Senate seat.
Jensen is proud of these victories, which he says give it “a school choice majority in both houses.” He attributes this success to public support for school choice.
Yet, in its electioneering, AFC commonly doesn’t even mention school choice. It attacked Wright for allegedly using sick leave to attend a protest, which she insists is not true. It went after Cates for his vote on the local school board concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. And it ripped Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz for threatening a female colleague and being cited in a massage parlor sting operation, both in 2011.