March 6, 2023

Aaron Sanderford: Betsy DeVos, two others spent big on Nebraska legislative races

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The American Federation of Children has been busy on a state-by-state push for privatizing public education. Reporter Aaron Sanderford unveiled some of their activities in Nebraska.

Former Secretary Betsy DeVos, together with her husband, Richard, and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam donated $3.25 million of the $3.3 million Nebraska campaign finance forms list as being raised by the American Federation for Children. Both families have served on the group’s board.

The American Federation for Children advocates for charter schools, vouchers and tax credit scholarships for private schools.

So why did the group send $710,000 to a Nebraska affiliate during the 2022 election cycle? It did so to help Nebraska pass something like Legislative Bill 753, the Opportunity Scholarships Act.

State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha sponsored the bill, which the Revenue Committee has advanced to the floor. Opportunity Scholarships would cut the amount of state income taxes paid by donors to private school scholarship programs aimed at needy students at private schools.

Linehan’s bill has 31 co-sponsors, including two Democrats who have received donations from the school choice group: State Sens. Justin Wayne and Mike McDonnell, both of Omaha. They and Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha have said they want students to have choices.

Lauren Garcia, who directs the Nebraska Federation of Children, said her group and its national organization are pushing for more options for students in Nebraska. She said the federation fights teachers unions that want “to protect their education monopoly.”

AFC has sense a moment to buy their way to the policies that DeVos and her allies have long favored. Read more here about their activities in Nebraska. 


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