“My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.” – Betsy DeVos, 1997
As of now, Mark Johnson has not openly said if he will be running for re-election for state superintendent. But there have been indications that he just might or events like the following would not be happening:
The words “contribute” and “Paid for by Elect Mark Johnson” indicate that money is being raised. And when money is raised in a campaign, the law states that it must be itemized and that there are limits as to what can be given in certain channels.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections maintains a web site that allows citizens to view campaign finance transactions for anyone who has run for state office in North Carolina, including Mark Johnson in his 2016 campaign.
And while money for the 2020 campaign trail has yet to be indicated, looking back at the 2016 campaign and who contributed (along with the thoughts of DeVos above) gives an indication of who looks to Johnson as someone who supports their agenda.
Five such donors certainly stood out in the 2016 election. Four of them were from out of state, but certainly have interests in North Carolina.
1. If you have heard of the drug OxyContin, then you may have heard of the many lawsuits brought against its maker, Purdue Pharma. In fact, there are over 1600 lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and all states except two are suing the company over its role in the current opioid crisis which North Carolina is fighting. Purdue Pharma is owned by the Sackler family.
Jonathan Sackler contributed twice.
2. John Bryan, the founder of the Team CFA based in Oregon, has been donating money left and right to specific politicians and PAC’s here in North Carolina to extend the charter industry including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (through a PAC). He spear-headed an attempt to win the contract of the ISD school in Robeson that was recently given a green light with Dr. Eric Hall as its first superintendent. Team CFA has many schools now operating in North Carolina with new campuses coming next school year.
3. Steuart Walton is CEO of Game Composites. It is located in Bentonville, AR. That’s the home of Walmart. Yes, he is part of the Walton family – the grandson of Sam Walton. Along with the Gates Foundation, and the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation has been a key player in the “education reform” business.
4. The Roger Bacon Academy Charter School Chain now has four different campuses in North Carolina. It is a for-profit charter school chain.
5. LEE stands for Leadership in Education Equity. It is a spin-off of Teach for America of which Johnson is an alumnus. In a EdWeek article from 2014, LEE was described as helping TFA alumni like Johnson into policy and advocacy. In the summer before the general election, they sent Johnson $5,100.
Pharmaceuticals, charter schools, ALEC inspired education “reforms”, and an initiative to put TFA alums in government positions – that’s what Johnson seems to champion.
And all of this is legal, but it indicates loyalties that someone may have. And as the leader of the state’s public school system, does Johnson’s acceptance of these contributions indicate a willingness to help their agendas?
Just look at his track record.