MADISON, Wis. — Most recently John Humphries, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, has been courting right-wing billionaires and Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign chair for support and campaign cash. But just a few short years ago, the same John Humphries sang a very different tune, signing a recall petition for Gov. Walker and, based on a review of state campaign finance records, funneling campaign cash to Walker’s recall opponent via the leftist super conduit ActBlue.
“You could tell John Humphries to put his money where his mouth is,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “But as he’s given to talking out of both sides of it, that wouldn’t clear up very much.”
In 2011 John Humphries signed a petition to recall Scott Walker. One Wisconsin Now has also uncovered, based on a review of state of Wisconsin campaign finance records, that in May 2012 Humphries also used the Democratic super conduit ActBlue Wisconsin to funnel a financial contribution to Walker’s recall election opponent.
But in 2016, in pursuit of his political ambitions, Humphries has struck a much different pose. He has been outspoken in his support for Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. Prior to her nomination, DeVos helped fund and run the American Federation for Children (AFC), a special interest group that supports taking funds from public education to support less accountable private voucher schools. In Wisconsin, AFC has spent over $5 million to help their favored politicians.
In confirmation hearings, DeVos revealed she is manifestly unqualified to head the federal Education Department, citing threats from grizzly bears to justify firearms in schools and displaying a lack of understanding about core functions of the department including higher education student loans, regulations of for-profit colleges and federal requirements to guarantee students with disabilities can receive public education. DeVos further appeared unaware of education policy debates over how to best measure student achievement and refused to say she would support requiring private and charter schools receiving public funds to meet the same accountability standards as public schools.
Humphries’ money chase has also led him to pledge his loyalty to Michael Grebe’s agenda to take money from public schools and give it to less accountable private voucher schools to win his support. Grebe chaired Scott Walker’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and, as former head of the right wing Bradley Foundation, oversaw a $108 million plus campaign funding organizations that supported efforts to expand public funding for private, religious and charter schools.
Ross noted that Humphries’ gubernatorial and political contortions are not the only embarrassing incidents in his nascent campaign. Humphries’ recent campaign finance report revealed that he accepted what appeared to be an in-kind corporate contribution for what was later disclosed to be teeth whitening services, in possible violation of state campaign finance rules. Wisconsin bars direct contributions to candidates from corporations and requires campaign funds be used for “political purposes.”
Humphries also raised eyebrows when he struck a deal with the school district for which he works to allow him to resign his position and instead be paid up to $650 a day to work, without supervision, while he campaigns for office.
He concluded, “John Humphries is as eager now for the money and support of the right-wing for his campaign in 2016 as he was to recall Gov. Walker in 2012 with his signing a recall petition and doling out campaign cash to Walker’s opponent. Once again, we see that the only thing we can count on is that the only thing John Humphries cares about is himself and his own ambitions.”