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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Assembly member Gottfried on the pro-charter mailing sent out by ERN without his consent


See Assembly Member Gottfried's response to Jan Carr's email to him, about the pro-charter school flyer she received in the mail sent by the charter lobbyists Education Reform Now in his name:


I am appalled about the "Education Reform Now" mailing, because it utterly misrepresents my position.

I do not support charter schools, and have spoken out frequently against them. I support a long list of proposals to rein them in, make them treat teachers and students more fairly, provide transparency, prevent crowding out public schools, etc. etc. I voted for the charter school bill because it includes many of those important changes. For me, the part of the bill that increased the limit on the number of charter schools was a regrettable price to pay for the valuable parts of the bill. I felt we were destined to lose the fight to keep the number down anyway.

The "Education Reform Now" people supported the bill for the opposite reason. I understand they have sent out these dishonest mailings in the districts of many legislators who voted for the bill for the reasons I did.

The implication of what you wrote above is that these flyers were mailed out without his permission; AM Gottfried, is that an accurate interpretation of your statement?


Yes. I understand that the mailer was sent in the name of ERN, not in my name. The prominence of my name and photo give the impression that it was “in (my) name.” The mailer was sent without my involvement, knowledge, or consent or that of anyone on my behalf. If I had had any prior knowledge of it, I would have vehemently objected to it.


Have you seen the flyers? Exactly how do the claims on the flyer mistake your position? Have you been in contact with ERN about this issue, asking them to halt their mailings?


I have been in Albany since the mailer hit, and so I have not actually seen it. I have been told that it implies that I support charter schools, which is not true. My chief of staff called ERN and expressed my strong objection to the mailing and asked that they halt further mailings of this nature.


One more question, and I hope you do not take this as a slight on your integrity or honesty. There has been alot of discussion on the NYC Education list serv and elsewhere about the piles of money ERN and Democrats for Education Reform have offered elected officials and candidates, under their names and also those of the hedge fund operators whose contributions they "bundle" . Some candidates have reported publicly and in private that they were offered $200,000 to support charter school expansion.


See for example, the statements of Steve Behar, running for Assembly in Queens; and Tony Avella, a candidate for the State Senate, who reportedly has also told supporters he was offered a lot of money to change his position on this issue but refused.


Have you been promised and/or received any substantial contributions from these groups or individuals? And if you are in the future, would you accept these donations?


I have not been offered, promised or received any contribution from these groups. If any individual contributor to my campaign is associated with such a group, I am not aware of it. If in the future anyone were to offer me a campaign contribution under circumstances suggesting that they were doing so because they thought I support charter schools, I would correct their misunderstanding. While I may accept a contribution even though I disagree with a donor on an issue, I would not accept a contribution from a single-issue organization such as these where I strongly disagree with the organization.


Thanks so much for clarifying your position,


Thank you for asking. Richard Gottfried


Parents who have received a similar pro-charter mailing in the name of your legislators; please reach out to them and ask them these or similar questions. The influence and money of the charter school industry is frightening.

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