MEJA calls for ouster of BESE chair
T he MTA and other members of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance have called for the ouster of Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Paul
Sagan for violating the public trust by failing to
disclose nearly a half a million dollars he had
contributed to the Yes on Question 2 campaign,
on top of a $100,000 contribution he did publicly
MEJA — the coalition of educator, parent, social
justice and labor organizations that was behind the
No on 2 campaign — has posted a petition calling
for Sagan’s removal.
Sagan has stated that he followed the letter of
the law and that the organization he contributed
to is responsible for not disclosing the millions of
dollars in contributions it received and passed on to
the campaign to lift the cap on charter schools. But
MEJA and others have said that Sagan violated the
public trust by failing to acknowledge how much
he’d contributed even when the issue was being
debated throughout the state in 2016.
When Sagan’s $100,000 contribution to
the campaign came to light in September 2016,
Governor Charlie Baker called the ensuing
controversy a “nothingburger.” When Baker made
that comment, Sagan had already contributed an
additional $496,000 in undisclosed funds to Families
for Excellent Schools — Advocacy.
One year later, on Sept. 11, 2017, the Office of
Campaign and Political Finance issued a disposition
agreement requiring FESA to pay $426,466 for
“receiving contributions from individuals and
then contributing those funds to the Great Schools
Massachusetts Ballot Question Committee in a manner
intended to disguise the true source of the money.”
In an op-ed published online by The Boston
Globe on Oct. 16, MTA President Barbara Madeloni
wrote, “Campaign finance laws have been greatly
eroded in recent years, but the ones that still exist are
crucial to public integrity. As Supreme Court Justice
Louis Brandeis famously stated, ‘Sunlight is said to
be the best of disinfectants.’
“In the case of ballot questions in Massachusetts,
it is vital for voters to know who is funding the
campaigns that are trying to influence their opinions
on important public policy matters. ‘Follow the
money’ is sound advice where such issues are
concerned. In the case of the campaign supporting
Question 2, the money was a record-shattering $26
million, nearly twice as much as opponents spent.”
Most of the money for Question 2 came from
extremely wealthy individuals, investors and
corporate interests, including the Waltons of Walmart
fame. Millions of dollars for the campaign came
from out-of-state corporate interests, while millions
more came from wealthy Massachusetts donors.
Sagan has stated that he
followed the letter of the law
and that the organization he
contributed to is responsible
for not disclosing the millions
of dollars in contributions it
received and passed on to the
campaign to lift the cap on
charter schools. But MEJA and
others have said that Sagan
violated the public trust by failing
to acknowledge how much he’d
contributed even when the issue
was being debated throughout
the state in 2016.
Please turn to MEJA/Page 30
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