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Campaign watch

Follow the money.

State Superintendent Tony Bennett's latest large contribution report, filed today, is a $25,000 campaign gift from Hoosiers for Economic Growth, the political action committee's second $25,000 contribution to Bennett this year.

Certainly, Hoosiers concerned with economic growth would support sound education policy. But who are these Hoosiers?

For that answer, you need to follow the money to Hoosiers for Economic Growth's pre-primary election filing and find out who contributed to the political action committee. There were two donations, both from the American Federation for Children Action Fund, with Indiana offices listed at the same business address as James Bopp. He is the Terre Haute attorney who was the legal adviser behind the Citizens United ruling responsible for the unlimited amounts of campaign cash currently pouring into federal elections.

So, where does the American Federation for Children get its money? Go back to the pre-primary filing reports and you'll find that its $1.2 million in contributions came from exactly three contributors: Investment firm managers Arthur Dantchik, Jeff Yass and Joel Greenberg. All are founders/principals in Susquehanna International Group, a privately held investment company based just outside Philadelphia specializing in derivatives, private equity and venture capital.

Interestingly, SIG places a great emphasis on its traders playing poker as a means of learning to take risks, which brings to mind this column from Daily Beast/Newsweek's Niall Ferguson, who was just thrilled to sit down with a group of hedge-fund managers for a round of poker to benefit Success Charter Network.

Why the efforts of wealthy financiers in promoting charter schools and vouchers is seen as philanthropic and not as pure greed is a mystery. The vast amounts of public dollars spent on education is irresistible to Wall Street. Teacher unions – with their members earning those mind-boggling five-figure salaries (sarcasm intended) – are all that stands in the way of a continual flow of taxpayer-funded profits.

Consider that Hoosiers for Economic Growth so far this year has contributed more money to Bennett's reelection campaign than any young Indiana teacher will earn in 2012.

It's not all about the kids. It's all about the money, and supporting candidates who will ensure that it flows to for-profit companies and not to teacher salaries.

Hoosiers for Economic Growth? Nope – it's Hedge-Fund Operators for Bigger Profits.

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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