MADISON, Wis. — Former State Rep. Debi Towns continues to receive the backing from an organization that supported her last-minute attempt as she left office in 2006 to help divert tax dollars from the over $100 million four-year-old kindergarten system to for-profit private school operations.
Top donors to the lawbreaking pro-private vouchers All Children Matters have given her over $8,000. The organization has sent out smear mailings on her behalf and placed a $150,000 television buy in Towns’ media market.
“Debi Towns relationship with the lawbreaking All Children Matters raises serious questions,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “None of us have forgotten how in 2006 she tried to shift $100 million worth of our tax money to private school interests – and it seems, neither have they.”
In the 2005-06 legislative session, Towns was tapped to head the Assembly Speaker’s “Task Force on Four-Year-Old Kindergarten.” Less than a month before she was leaving office after losing to current Rep. Kim Hixson in 2006, Towns suddenly released a report without consulting members of the committee. Towns’ most controversial recommendation was that private schools without certified teachers should be able to access untold state funds from the over-$100 million taxpayer-financed four-year-old kindergarten budget.
At the time of her action, Towns had already received 45 contributions from All Children Matter’s top donors and after leaving office, she received a top-paying position with School Choice Wisconsin, an organization headed by Susan and George Mitchell who have donated over $60,000 to All Children Matter. (More information about All Children Matter is available at www.AllCashMatters.org.)
All Children Matter is the $10 million out-of-state, pro-private school vouchers group financed by right wing billionaires and millionaires, including Dick and Betsy DeVos and the Wal-Mart heirs. All Children Matter, which has blanketed the state with racist attacks against numerous Democratic elected officials and candidates, was fined $5.2 million by the Ohio Elections Commission on April 4 for illegally funneling $870,000 into Ohio campaigns.
All Children Matter remains under a legal cloud in Wisconsin after the State Elections Board determined in November 2006 that All Children Matter violated rules about express advocacy. That investigation is in the hands of Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board who is to determine the penalty for the organization.