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Rep. Ed Lindsey

Reporter Nick Bradley of the News Enterprise provided primary research for this profile of Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta), a leading figure in the push for charter schools in the Georgia Legislature and the chair of a political committee backed by for-profit charter school interests that promoted their agenda.  The profile appeared on Atlanta Unfiltered’s Transparency Project on March 4, 2013.

In 2012, Lindsey chaired Families for Better Public Schools, a political committee heavily funded by for-profit charter school interests to push for another avenue to launch such schools. He co-sponsored the House resolution placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot and, in 2013, authored a so-called “parent trigger” bill that would give families a way to virtually force conversion of a low-achieving school to a charter.

The committee was formed after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that a state agency set up to approve charters unconstitutionally usurped local control of public education. Georgia voters approved the amendment, 58 to 42 percent.

Families for Better Public Schools spent $2.3 million on polling and a pro-charter media campaign, employing a bi-partisan team of political consultants. They included Comm360, founded by Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and a member of the state ethics commission; Franklin Communications LLC, run by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s son,Cabral; the Peachtree Battle Group, founded by ex-Gov. Roy Barnes’ 2010 campaign manager, Chris Carpenter; and Glenlake Strategies’ Chip Lake, former top aide to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

The committee’s single biggest funder, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, donated $600,000. (The Walton Family Foundation has given millions more since 2009 to other pro-charter groups here: $2.7 million to Georgia Charter Schools Association, $450,000 to the Georgia Family Education and Research Council and $135,000 to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.)

The latter foundation works with the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute, chaired by Lindsey, to “train Georgia’s leaders to shape the public policy debate and to govern by adhering to conservative principles.” Its key policy areas include choice and accountability [continue reading]

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