Monday, July 14, 2008

School Board Member Heavily Patronized by Wealthy Campaign Contributors, Says Woods

While her opponent in the redistricting debate, CM Jerry Maynard, has his own dubious campaign finance entanglements, Karen Y. Johnson has a history, now documented, of feeding at the trough of Chamber of Commerce finance.  According to PiTW, her campaign contributions include:
$10,500—almost two-thirds of what she raised altogether for her 2006 campaign.

Johnson took $2,500 from the Chamber of Commerce’s Success PAC, $5,000 from the Excellence for Public Education PAC and $3,000 from the Fund for Nashville Families PAC. David Fox, another key vote on the school board for the rezoning plan, took $10,000 from two of these PACs.

These PACs, despite their inspiring names, are actually merely fronts for extremely wealthy business people and convenient ways to circumvent contribution limits.

The rich guys can dump enormous, unlimited sums of cash into the PACs, which in turn give to the candidates. The law limits PAC contributions to $5,000 for each candidate, so the PACs give big donations to each other in a kind of shell game, and then they all give to the same candidates. That way, Johnson could take $10,500 from essentially the same rich guys. Health care executive Thomas Cigarran and Orrin Ingram of Ingram Industries are probably the biggest donors to these three PACs.
Given that the rezoning vote is reportedly driven by the Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Johnson's vote for rezoning looks like political patronage. If the Chamber of Commerce is driving the MNPS Board decision-making process with loads of money, why spend any more tax dollars on electing a school board to rubber stamp their initiatives?

UPDATE:  Amy Griffith reports that Johnson is not the only one making a big campaign donation haul. 

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