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Attention, Hoosier voters!

Alice Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune, is Tony Bennett's best friend, if campaign contributions are any indication. Walton, No. 17 on the Forbes billionaire list, just made a $200,000 contribution to Bennett's re-election campaign.

While she lives in Bentonville, Ark., Walton has a history of bankrolling education-related politics here in Indiana. She's given almost $1.7 million to the Terre Haute-based American Federation for Children Action Fund over the past two years. That group, in turn, gives much of its money to Hoosiers for Economic Growth, which supports Republican candidates supporting anti-union education measures.

Wal-Mart, of course, has a long history battling organized labor.

So, if you're wondering why billionaire Alice Walton has an interest in Indiana schoolkids – well, it's not so much the kids as who might some day try to organize them.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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