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Look At That Smile: Matt Wingards Plan to Line His Pockets with Your Tax Dollars

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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-11-11 11:39 AM
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Look At That Smile: Matt Wingards Plan to Line His Pockets with Your Tax Dollars

In the closing days of the legislative session, lawmakers are working behind closed doors on last-minute education billsmost of which are opposed by teachers and education advocates. Most of these bills have received no public process or input, and their fate depends on backroom deals.

While tense negotiations over these bills have drawn most of the headlines, theres one important story the press hasnt even begun to tell: The close financial ties between the chief Republican negotiator on the bills and a large corporation that would benefit from them passing.

The chief negotiator on these bills for the House Republicans is the Republican co-chair of the House Education Committee, Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville). According to state documents, Wingard is on the payroll of the Maryland-based Connections Academy, the for-profit parent corporation of Oregon Connections Academy, Oregons largest online charter school.

The three bills being pushed by Wingard in these backroom deals would greatly expand charter schools, particularly online charter schools. That would mean more taxpayer dollars for these virtual schools and, presumably, more taxpayer dollars sent to Connections Academy, Wingards employer.

Connections Academy has really scored a coupthere arent a lot of corporations who have paid staffers holding the gavel in the legislative committee that sets policy on their industry.

Itd be like if Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg), who runs the Roseburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company, was the co-chair of the House Committee on Beverages, and he spent all of his time pushing bills that would require tax dollars to be spent on soda.

Whats even better for Wingard and his employers is that the Oregon press has completely ignored the story. Even while he coordinates behind-the-scenes negotiations on bills that would line his employers pockets, reporters and editors have given him a pass.

At the Our Oregon Sockeye Blog, weve put the pieces together in a longer expose highlighting all of the facts of this story. Head over there for the full story.

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