Charter school backers’ support for former LA mayor’s bid for governor grows

The gubernatorial campaign of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got another big boost this week when William Oberndorf, a San Francisco philanthropist and ally of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, contributed $2 million to a committee set up by charter school advocates to promote the former Los Angeles mayor’s bid to be the next governor of California.

Oberndorf, a Republican and major GOP donor, replaced DeVos as chairperson of American Federation for Children in 2016 when she was named by Donald Trump to join his cabinet.

The goal of the organization which DeVos co-founded is to promote greater “school choice” for parents, especially low-income ones, by providing taxpayer supported subsidies to offset the cost of private school tuition. That could include vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts and other strategies.

Oberndorf’s contribution went to Families and Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa, an independent expenditure committee established by the Charter School Association of California Advocates. Under state law, the committee can promote a candidate but can not coordinate their activities with the candidate’s campaign.

Also this week former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed another $1 million to the pro-Villaraigosa committee, to supplement the $1.5 million he had already contributed earlier this month.

Their contributions bring the total amount raised by the committee to just over $16 million over the past month, mostly contributed by a handful of high-wealth individuals. With these funds, the committee has been running television ads and sending out colorful materials to boost Villaraigosa’s odds in the June 5 primary.

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