Out-of-state donors active in Georgia charter school campaign

ATLANTA — Out-of-state donations and business groups continue to fuel much of the campaign for changing the Georgia constitution so a panel of state appointees could issue operating charters to schools over the objections of local school boards.


In figures filed with the state ethics commission by Friday’s deadline, two committees in support of the amendment reported raising $35,000 in the 30 days since their last report in late August.

In the latest report, 47 percent of the money raised came from out of state, including a $10,000 donation from the pro-business Americans for Prosperity organization in Arlington, Va., and $5,000 from an investment firm in Great Falls, Mont., the Davidson Cos.

Families for Better Public Schools drew a $10,000 check from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, but 14 of its 31 donations came from other states. A group called Com­mittee for Educational Free­dom, which was organized months ago, reported its first activity, and half of its four donations were from out of state, amounting to 84 percent of its funding.

In the previous reporting period, 96 percent of the money donated was from out of state. Still, Mark Peevy, a spokesman for Families for Better Public Schools characterized the pro-amendment effort as coming from ordinary voters.

“We are still focused on a grass-roots campaign. As you’ll see, we have more than twice the number of donations (as) the opposition from grass-roots Georgians,” he said.

Pushing against passage of the amendment is a committee called Vote SMART!, which reported raising $24,000 in the latest period. Except for $3,000 coming from Merchant Capital Investments of Montgomery, Ala., all of the opponents’ money came from Georgia donors, most of which were educators or school administrators.

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