Today the Dispatch ran a seemingly innocent Op Ed in support of the charter school changes included in the house budget bill. The Op Ed was written by Thomas F. Needles who the Dispatch identifies as an employee of a “Columbus-based government-relations consulting firm”.

In the piece Tom defends the changes to Ohio’s charter school laws and goes so far as to claim that White Hat Management, the for-profit charter school company who stands to directly benefit financially from the changes, is “a proven and effective education management organization.”

More on Tom in a second, first a little background on the charter school changes Tom supports in his Op Ed.

As we’ve pointed out many times here at Plunderbund, the budget bill that just passed the house seems to have been custom designed to benefit White Hat Management, the operator of many poorly performing charter schools in Ohio and a huge GOP campaign donor. The changes will lift limits on the number of schools White Hat can operate, allow White Hat to legally run schools as for-profit entities and remove existing oversight and regulations that keep the schools in check.

Now back to Tom Needles.

You want to take a wild guess who Tom Needles works for?

  
    

I think you already know the answer.

Tom Needles is a registered lobbyist for White Hat Management.

He has personally contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Kasich, Amstutz and other Republicans.

He also manages Go-Go PAC for White Hat’s David Brennan. Go-Go Pac is a political fundraising committee that also donated thousands to Kasich and Taylor and Amstutz, and is funded exclusively by White Hat’s owner David Brennan and his family. Go-Go Pac has been used by the Brennan family and Needles since 2005 to funnel money to Republican candidates (including tens of thousands to Speaker Batchelder) in excess of the legal campaign finance limits.

And here’s the clincher: according to multiple source, Tom Needles actually helped write the charter school-related language in the budget.

Take a minute to digest all that.

Tom Needles is a charter school lobbyist who works for White Hat. He helps direct tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from his client to Ohio’s Republican politicians. And he’s the guy Republicans get to write their changes to charter school legislation? Changes that open the door for his employer to expand its already large footprint in Ohio, raking in millions of state dollars for its failing charter schools.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture. And we’re not the only one seeing it.

Over the weekend the PD’s Brent Larkin called out Brennan and Republicans in the House in his scathing piece about the proposed charter school changes. Larkin comes right out and says what all of us already know: Batchelder and his caucus have been “bought and paid for” by White Hat and its owner David Brennan.

Everyone knew David Brennan and White Hat Management were involved with the charter school changes in the budget, and now we know who helped them put it all together. It’s hard not to see this situation as anything more than a straight up bribe – with Tom Needles playing the roll of bagman.

Evangelize!
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  • buckeyekelly

    I’m going to freakin’ swear. These are the rules I’ve attempted to outline from recent history:

    Teachers and unions who give to Democrats are evil. They must be punished.

    Lobbyists who give to Republicans get their own bully pulpit and don’t have to disclose any conflicts of interest.

    Did I miss anything.

  • buckeyekelly

    I’m going to freakin’ swear. These are the rules I’ve attempted to outline from recent history:

    Teachers and unions who give to Democrats are evil. They must be punished.

    Lobbyists who give to Republicans get their own bully pulpit and don’t have to disclose any conflicts of interest.

    Did I miss anything.

  • http://twitter.com/Quackers48 Linda Myers

    Everyone should read this 2002 speech by Dick DeVos (connected to Amway) at the Heritage Foundation. It outlines the conservative’s plans to dismantle public education using vouchers as the vehicle. And to do it under the radar with low visibility. Kasich is right on schedule. I think if the public was aware of this, there would be an uproar.

    Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in2002 Heritage Foundation Speechhttp://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/5/3/12515/58655/

  • http://twitter.com/Quackers48 Linda Myers

    Everyone should read this 2002 speech by Dick DeVos (connected to Amway) at the Heritage Foundation. It outlines the conservative’s plans to dismantle public education using vouchers as the vehicle. And to do it under the radar with low visibility. Kasich is right on schedule. I think if the public was aware of this, there would be an uproar.

    Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in2002 Heritage Foundation Speechhttp://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/5/3/12515/58655/

  • Bob

    Wait until Ben Marrison hears about this! It will probably require him to lecture us next Sunday when he tells us what a great job The Dispatch does.

  • Bob

    Wait until Ben Marrison hears about this! It will probably require him to lecture us next Sunday when he tells us what a great job The Dispatch does.

  • Anonymous

    I assume there was complete ID and/or a disclaimer under the editorial? Right?

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    Not even close:

    “Thomas F. Needles held senior positions in the state and federal governments for many years, and currently is with a Columbus-based government-relations consulting firm.”

  • Anonymous

    Damn! And here I thought maybe the Disgrace actually adhered to principles of transparent journalism! Well, actually, no I didn’t. But hope springs eternal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1214079988 Greg Mild

    Anyone know the outcome of Mayhew’s investigation?

    “Mayhew said he is not immediately filing a complaint against the
    Brennans. Rather, he is giving them 21 days to show why the two PACs
    should not be considered affiliated under Ohio law, and why they did not
    violate state campaign finance limits.”

  • stryx

    I’ve been over this with them before. They feel that since it’s on the opinion page and since they gave some sort of description, then GAME ON.

    To beat a well worn drum, if the Columbus Board of Education had done something like this- had a lobbyist argue in favor of legislation he wrote and his clients would benefit financially from, that was being sponsored and voted on by people he/ his clients donated large sums of money to- the Dispatch would be all over it with multiple reporters and a special Ben Marrison editorial saying how sad it all was.

    @dispatcheditor

  • http://plunderbund.com Joseph

    They had to give the money back and I believe they were fined.

  • Anastasjoy

    Do they have a tendency, like the Cleveland Plainly Republican, to attach peoples’ job descriptions to their letters to the editor, even when it has nothing to do with the topic of their letter? Of course, the Plainly Republican also runs a disclaimer with every Connie Schultz column stating that she is married to Senator Sherrod Brown, as if that fact somehow controls all her thinking.

  • GreenIris

    again, every post is worse than the last.

    this group of screwballs keeps lowering the bottom.

    the only thing they are good at is robbing Ohio blind.

  • GreenIris

    when D’s think alike, we are ‘ brainwashed lieberals’.

    when R’s listen to that transmitter in their brain (yes I know, make your own joke) they are defending liberty

  • Guest

    Who cares as long as they are “private and make money”. That is the road map for the TGOP and their real constituents the evil rich. Anything with the word “public” is bad. Notice how they are not public servants and we aren’t the public but are taxpayers.

    Gotta a continuing bunch of suckers to vote for them again because they don’t want to pay for civilization by way of taxes. Evil rich used their tax cuts to create “jobs” they are the evil radical do called “elected” GOP.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, you forgot to mention that lobbyists and Wall Street brahmins who give to Republicans get huge increases in their personal income due to lucrative no-bid government contracts, taxpayer-purchased state assets (turnpike, prisons, schools) at bargain basement prices, and RobsOhio incentives (read: kickbacks).

    King John and his merry band of Wall Street brahmins make Tom Noe (Coingate) and Terry Gaspar (BWC CFO) look like pikers.

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