What is the deal with rich hedge-fund managers wanting to dictate how schools should be run for other people’s children? Can someone please explain this?
Today’s example: A campaign donation of $25,000 to Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett from Anne Griffin of Chicago. Who’s she? Anne Dias Griffin is the French-born head of Aragon Global Management, reportedly one of the largest hedge funds run by a woman. Her husband, Kenneth Griffin, is a hedge-fund manager who is said to be the second-richest person in Chicago.
Anne Griffin is also starting a digital media company that will focus on “political, educational and fiscal reform in Illinois and the Midwest,” the Chicago Tribune reports. The Tribune says the Griffins are among the biggest contributors to the Illinois Republican Party and have given more than $1.5 million to Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing PAC established by David and Charles Koch.
New York hedge-fund managers Daniel Loeb and Paul Singer, both big-time supporters of Republican candidates and causes, were previously on board for Bennett, who is running for re-election against Democrat Glenda Ritz.
But it’s not just Republican hedge-funders who buy into the ideology of charter schools, vouchers, merit pay for teachers, etc. Democrats for Education Reform, Ken Libby writes on his DFER Watch blog, is “supported largely by hedge-fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control and alternative teacher preparation programs.”
The Griffins gave money to Barack Obama and a few other Democrats in 2007-08. Then their politics seemed to take a right turn.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Anne Griffin has given nearly $500,000 to political campaigns in recent election cycles, almost all of it to Republican candidates and committees. She gave $250,000 in late 2010 to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Kenneth Griffin has given $1.25 million to American Crossroads and more than $1 million to Restore Our Future, the super-PAC created to help elect Mitt Romney president, the Center for Responsive Politics says.
So, really, the $25,000 that Anne Griffin is spending to make sure that we Hoosiers elect the right person as state superintendent, that’s just pocket change.
The world of the super-rich is filled with interesting connections, though. According to the Tribune, Anne Griffin founded Aragon with seed capital from Julian Robertson, a billionaire retired hedge-fund manager. Robertson has been one of the funders of American Federation for Children, which bankrolled campaigns to pass school-voucher laws in Indiana and other states.