MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is demanding documents and threatening to use the oversight authority of the Senate committee he chairs in an apparent attempt to derail an ongoing federal Department of Justice investigation into the private school voucher program in Wisconsin. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said Sen. Johnson’s pandering is a blatant attempt to curry favor with the $800 million-plus right-wing Bradley Foundation and payback for a sweetheart deal for legal representation from the Bradley-funded Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).
“Sen. Johnson has watched as the Bradley Foundation has used their millions to advance and protect the political interests of Scott Walker,” commented Ross. “With this shameless pander to try to intimidate the federal government out of holding the private school voucher program accountable it looks like he’s making a play to get some of the Bradley Foundation’s largesse for himself.”
The federal Department of Justice has been conducting an investigation of serious allegations of discrimination against students in the publicly funded private school voucher program.
One Wisconsin Now had earlier raised questions about a sleazy deal in which Sen. Johnson’s campaign was paying the Bradley Foundation funded WILL for legal work in a lawsuit termed a “political stunt” by a fellow Wisconsin Congressional Republican. A complaint filed by One Wisconsin Now regarding the deal remains pending before the Federal Elections Commission.
A report from One Wisconsin Now exposed the $30 million plus propaganda campaign underwritten by the Bradley Foundation to undermine public education and promote privatization through the unaccountable private school voucher program.
Serious questions have been raised about the private school voucher program that took in $212 million in state tax dollars in the last school year including numerous instances of financial irregularity in schools and student performance that is no better than peer students in public schools. According to the Department of Public Instruction nearly eighty percent of students participating in a recent statewide expansion of the voucher program were not previously in public schools and nearly seventy five percent were already attending a private school.
Ross concluded, “The private school voucher program hasn’t paid off for students with higher levels of achievement or taxpayers with accountability. But it has been lucrative for the campaign accounts of the elected officials that pander to the special interests behind it. Add Senator Johnson to the list of politicians seeking to feed at the education privatization cartel’s trough.”