StudentsFirst, the education advocacy group formed by former Washington D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, has poured $2 million into a campaign committee created to influence state legislative races ahead of the June 5 primary.
The "Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst" committee reported its first contribution late Tuesday, spending more than $400,000 on television buys, polling and consulting services to support Democrat Brian Johnson, a charter school executive running in the open 46th Assembly District. That Southern California seat has become a hot spot for political spending, as pro-charter interests supporting Johnson battle the California Teachers Association.
Rhee, who is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (no relation to Brian Johnson), expanded StudentsFirst's California presence last summer, hiring lobbying firm Gonzalez, Quintana & Hunter and opening a committee to make candidate contributions. A spokesman for StudentsFirst, which is a nonprofit, declined to identify specific donors to the group.
The organization has aimed to raise $1 billion to further its efforts of countering the influence of teachers unions in campaigns and state policy.
PHOTO CREDIT: MIchelle Rhee speaking at a May 2010 Sacramento Press Club event. Manny Crisostomo, Sacramento Bee.
Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect a $350,000 television buy included in the campaign report.