Former Governor Jeb Bush’s nonprofit, education reform foundation is taking heat for using donations from for-profit companies to lobby for state education laws that could benefit those companies, reports William March of the Tampa Tribune.
Among the activities of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education that have come in for criticism: It pays for state officials and legislators to go to conferences where they meet with the company’s donors, including officials of corporations who stand to gain from the policymakers’ decisions.
In recent years, several Florida Department of Education officials and legislators have attended the conferences, and in some cases, their flights, hotel stays, meals and incidentals were paid for with money that came partly from the foundation’s corporate donors.
At these events, the state officials attended meetings, panel discussions, meals and receptions also attended by those donors.
The donors include companies that sell testing services, high-tech learning products and charter school services to the state and to Florida school systems, or that would like to.
Normally, it’s illegal for lobbyists or lobbying organizations to provide benefits such as free trips to Florida legislators or top executive branch officials.
But the Foundation for Excellence in Education escapes that prohibition because lobbyists on its staff are registered to another, closely related Bush foundation – even though the two share key staff members and even their Tallahassee address.
More from March here.