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August 20, 2007 07:08 PM UTC

School Board Ethics Discussion Today

  • by: Colorado Pols

The Colorado State School board has scheduled a last-minute Special Meeting for today for a “Code of Ethics Discussion.”

There’s no word on what prompted the sudden meeting, which follows a morning-long Executive Session, but it’s a good bet that board members will be talking about Bob Schaffer and his ties to donor David Brennan, who has given money to Schaffer’s Senate campaign while also receiving a favorable vote from him in relation to a charter school company called White Hat Management.

In related news, an Ohio newspaper called the Cleveland Scene has a story criticizing Schaffer in relation to White Hat, which seems to be a big issue in the Buckeye State.

Fortunately, owner David Brennan is hedging his bets by operating in multiple states. Even better, he’s finding that bribery outside Ohio is more competitively priced.

Take the Denver Public Schools. In February, leaders voted unanimously to yank White Hat’s charter, due to the small matter of sucking something fierce. So Brennan fixed the problem by Ohio rules: He bribed a guy.

Enter Bob Schaffer, former congressman, current member of the Colorado State Board of Education, and prospective U.S. Senate candidate. Schaffer’s board essentially overruled Denver, forcing the city to keep White Hat. In return, Schaffer received $4,000 in campaign contributions from Brennan, most of which arrived just a month after the vote.

ProgressNowAction, a Denver advocacy group, accused Brennan of buying Schaffer’s vote. “They’re the worst of what’s going on in the school-reform movement,” spokesman Michael Huttner says of White Hat. “It’s all purely driven by greed.”

Here in Ohio, of course, we simply call that government. More alarming was how little Schaffer charged.

Brennan has given $40,000 to Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor, and thousands more to her predecessor, Betty Montgomery. If you don’t want anyone looking at how you’re spending state money, these are the people to pay.

And just to make sure he never runs afoul of the law, Brennan has given $130,000 to Ohio Supreme Court justices.

If today’s “Code of Ethics Discussion” is indeed related to Schaffer, it could cause further damage to his image heading into next year’s Senate race.

UPDATE: the meeting just concluded, and Schaffer didn’t show up, even though we’re told all the major press had representatives and he was the #1 topic of dicussion. That’s a big mistake for Schaffer, who bumbled his response to this scandal by badmouthing the messengers and is now apparently hiding from the very people he should be courting to defuse the situation–the press. How much worse this will get is an open question, but Schaffer continues to do himself no favors.


51 thoughts on “School Board Ethics Discussion Today

  1. Not to be too shrill but do Republican’s have someone who can run in Schaffer’s place? The narrative here is so clear and so simple I don’t see how he can spin out of this.

    Could Schaffer be dead in the water 14 months before the election?

    1. The far-righties are holding on tight to BS, while writing wild-eye attacks against Udall and treating BS as their lord and savior (it’s very coulterish, or cultish?). They even go as far to claim Shaffer is a “realist” while Udall is extreme. It’s comedy at it’s best, since they think they are doing their guy good.

      These Group Thinkers are the ones who believe the very same as BS that Republicans aren’t conservative enough, and that to win elections they need to purge their party of almost any and all dissent. They no longer understand Colorado voters, our interests at citizens for this state, nor do they have any type of vision for building a better state and country. They’d rather marvel in their revisionist views of taking the country back to some imaginary past-time, and idolizing Reagan as if he was Baby Jesus.

      I hope, I really do, that BS is their candidate. His extremist views only further show what’s wrong with the Republican Party.

      1. Thomas McDowell (who according to Square State http://www.squaresta… is the blogger known as “A Watcher” for two right-wing blogs) seems to have read the message I posted, but didn’t understand it.

        Over at Square State it’s noted that McDowell is considered a conspiracy theorists by those who write for “ToTheRight” and “PoliticalPaleHorse.” I find it all very amusing that I have my own thread on his webiste now. I must have struck a nerve.

        Hey Watcher, BS is not in the center, no matter how much spin you throw on it. You and the neo-cons at the Independence Institute are going to have a tough time selling yourselves and BS as centrists.

    2. Schaffer can’t win statewide….repubs will not run him.  My scenario? Schaffer shuffles along but he keeps getting caught in “dubious” situations regarding ethics….finally…sometime early next winter….he bows out graciously because his family can’t take the stress and he cares about the party…blah blah blah..

      It would be too late for anyone else to man a primary campaign.  Woe or Woe …what is wadhams to do?  Never fear. just so happens that the only Republican  who can win state wide will be “free” come March…yep. ole Hank Brown, fresh from rescuing CU will be “available”….and while Brown would never run for the Senate on his own initiative…he would bow to the pleas of the party and will run for the Senate, again, and win….

      Schaffer does not need to be afraid of the left….it is right flank which will do him in….

      Udall should plan on running against H. Brown…and that calls for a state wide “listening tour”… now…

      I was right about Ritter not having a primary opponent and I think I am right now…..(.although I did predict the dems would lost in 2006.)

      1. This is very interesting, while I cannot forsee Hank running, it would make for a great campaign year. If Schaffer bows out, I think Hank may be pressured to run by Dick Wad, but won’t do it.

        Suthers is still on the edge of his seat waiting for a chance to jump into the game. Look out for the AG continuing to push PR for his fight against sexually violent predators, against marijuana legalization, and other “daddy knows best” issues that make the R’s all warm inside.

        1. Although, he did win a state wide race.  But, Hank Brown has a physical profile to match Udall…..Both handsome, rugged….rocky mt. guys..

          Brown won’t bow to some twit like Wadhams….it is the old guard….Benson, Armstrong, who will tell him Hank the  party needs him…

          1. Good Point. Like I said, I think it would make for great political theater. And speaking hypothetically, any idea whom from the old guard would run that show? Would Atkinson get back in?

  2. What’s next, a Penthouse expose on Schaffer?

    Keep digging, Pols.

    By the way, boy have I got a scoop for you!  Get this: Mitt Romney illegally strapped his dog atop his car’s roof when on vaction.  Scandalous, isn’t it?!

    Go to it!

    1. There goes Dr. Dooby deflating the hypocrisy and blatant conflict of interests issue, but interjecting that this piece (which is completely relative to Schaffer and Brennan) is something that we would do better to glaze over.

      Doc, BS has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and the only thing you have to say is “But, Michael Vick killed puppies!” That is exactly what’s wrong with the far-right in the GOP.

      1. Your title reminds me of Leslie Nielsen in “The Naked Gun” waving gawkers away after the police cars crash into the fireworks plant and all they all go off.  I am guessing that’s probably what you meant, but I can’t help but laugh when I think of that.

      2. This strikes me as when Pols was on the drumbeat that Coffman was part of the cover-up in Iraq.  Nevermind that Schaffer has been favorable towards these kinds of organizations before, but somehow Schaffer “sold” his vote.  Someone mind explaining how that works for me?

        1. his past percieved favorability towards “these kinds of organizations” has no bearing on whether or not he acted inappropriately in this case. The question is what was the intent of this donation in relation to this vote. Period. There is a very specific and narrow fact pattern at play here.

          You don’t find anything suspicous about a large donation, from an out of state donor, who has a very direct business interest in influencing one particular voter to swing his way?

          This stinks to high heaven…

          1. The only established link is that Schaffer voted on an issue that he has long set forth favorable feelings towards, and everyone is assuming that because he received a contribution from an organization that is in line with his values, that something must be wrong here.

            If Udall votes with enviornmentalists, does that make him corrupt because he got contributions from them?  No way…

            But then again, Udall is a Democrat, so it wouldn’t be a story anyway

            1. a vote for pro-environmental bill that pleases environmental groups in general is not what we are discussing. This was a vote about one specific company, one specific contract and Schaffer’s vote directly benefited the company financially. Said vote was then followed by two seperate max contributions.  You’re not even remotely in the same ballpark.

      1. the amount of money contributed to Schaffer’s campaign, the assertion that the SBOE forced DPS to re-accept Life Skills (and conversely, White Hat), and the suggestion that Brennan (and his wife) could have contributed more money than they did to Schaffer. The story says Brennan gave Schaffer $4,000 when actually the amount was $4,600. The SBOE didn’t and couldn’t force DPS to re-accept Life Skills or White Hat, only to reconsider their charter again. If DPS had decided to revoke the charter a second time, then it would have again gone before the SBOE for a final consideration. Also, Life Skills could have fired White Hat if it had wanted to; the SBOE had no say in which management group Life Skills hired. And lastly, the story sarcastically suggests Schaffer “hike up his prices.” Again, he can’t- both Brennan and his wife gave the max amount allowed.

        1. there are three main inaccuracies in the Cleveland Scene story.

          1. the amount of money contributed to Schaffer’s campaign. The story listed it as $4,000 when it was actually $4,600. This is important because

          2. The FEC only allows individuals to donate a maximum of $2,300 to a given campaign in a given election cycle. Brennan made one donation and his wife Ann made the other. I count this as an innacuracy because the story sarcasatically suggests Schaffer should “hike up his prices” while not acknowledging that the Brennans gave the max allowed by law.

          3. The SBOE didn’t and couldn’t force DPS to re-accept Life Skills’ charter or White Hat Management. All the SBOE did was require DPS to re-consider the revokation of Life Skills’ charter. If they had decided again to reject it, then Life Skills could have again appealed the decision to the SBOE for a final verdict. Also, the SBOE had nothing to do with Life Skills’ selection of White Hat as a management company. After having their charter revoked the first time by DPS, the school could have fired White Hat, and then Schaffer’s vote would have been irrelevant as far as Brennan is concerned.

    1. An Ohio charter-school conglomerate (31 schools in Ohio with plans on spreading out geographically from there)takes public money in Ohio to the tune of $109 million, but doesn’t deliver high test scores, or detail how it’s spent that money. However, Bob Schaffer thinks they’ve done well enough to go to bat for them here in Colorado. Afterwards, the owner of the school conglomerate donates money to Schaffer’s Senate campaign.

      1. I wasn’t taking issue with the thrust of the story. What I’m saying is that journalists have an obligation to: A) be accurate when citing facts, and B) present an overall informed view of the situation.

        I’m not suggesting White Hat’s performance isn’t questionable nor am I taking issue with Schaffer’s pro-charter school stance. I’m just saying if you print a story, it should be at least reliable.

        1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

          One of my long burning disdains of the MSM.  I frequently point out errors here, since the media is often part of our interests.

          At least they were in the ball park, and they minimized the number instead of exaggerating it.

  3. Rollie Heath and Michael Huttner deserve a lot of credit for starting the Progress Now group.  They have raised all kinds of hell and kept Republican snakes like Schaffer on the run.

    1. The support is documented, unlike if you read the Gazette or listen to any far-right wing radio show here in Colorado which make up their own stories out of biased hatred. Ever listen to Gunny Bob?

      Again, can you defend what Schaffer did? Can you honestly say there is not any conflict of interests as charged by ProgressNow? Can you honestly support someone who constantly says “Do as I say, not as I do,” when he wanted to force the entire SBoE to sign an accountability pledge which he now refuses to do because someone on the left asked him to?

      We do not need another divisive, authoritarian, extremist like BS representing Colorado in Congress. We already have Tancredo, Lamborn and Musgrave.

    2. I’ll bet there was even something G.W. Bush said in the last 6 years that was both honest and accurate.

      Who brought it up is irrelevant. What is very relevant is will most people view this as typical Republican corruption. And if they do, then BS’ campaign is over.

      And the bottom line is this is exactly the kind of thing most voters can easily understand and see that it almost certainly is bribery. Why else would someone in Ohia contribute to a school boad member in Colorado?

      1. Well said David, you nailed it. The narrative here is simple, clean and concise. You can explain what happened in a couple of short statements and everyone understands that this looks’s very bad. An easier campaign commercial was never written…

    1. wouldn’t you show up for this hearing and shout it from the rooftops? So far I think the only “defense” we have heard is Wadhamssaying that Michael Huttner is a big-meany.

      If this is all a big misunderstanding why haven’t we heard a real defense all these weeks?

      1. Unfortunately the votes are cast and counted in the state of Colorado.

        Seriously, they do seem totally divorced from reality. This is like the macaca incident where the Repubs seem to not understand that this can hurt them bad and instead just motor along talking to the base.

        I am starting to get really worried for the future of the Republican party here. We need them to keep us Dems on our toes and honest.

  4. Just what is the Republican party trying to do? If they keep this up for another couple of years than we’re going to have to have 10 – 20% of all Democrats switch to the Republican party (not me!) just to keep them alive.

    This is campaigning 101 and they’re flunking.

        1. Or not have a spokesperson, another board member, explain why BS wasn’t there? 

          Another after the fact excuse.

          Keep it up, Bob.  You are ensuring another Democratic victory. 

          I (heart) Bob.

        2.   When the going gets tough, the not-so-tough go into hiding. 
            In ’94, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Bensen was getting pummeled by Roy Romer in the first couple of debates.  Bensen’s running mate advised Bensen to simply refuse to participate in any further scheduled debates.  Bensen took the advice; Romer won the election in a blowout. 
            Bensen’s ’94 running mate was none other than then-state Senator Bob Schaffer.

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