Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who is Bradley Tusk and why should we care?

On Sunday, there was a front page story about how Bradley Tusk is coordinating the campaign against Obama’s appointment of Chuck Hagel as US Secretary of Defense on the grounds that Hagel was anti-choice and anti-gay (apparently Hagel made an anti-gay comment in 1998).  Tusk’s campaign includes TV ads and sending mailers that push Sen. Schumer to oppose the nomination with the mysterious name of “Use your Mandate” as the return address. I’ve received two of these large glossy mailers in the last week.
Here is Tusk claiming that there is opposition to Hagel from liberals in Foreign Policy magazine:
"From the left, there's a lot of consternation about the Hagel nomination," said Bradley Tusk, former campaign manager for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and founder of Tusk Strategies, which is helping coordinate the campaign. "A lot of people worked hard to reelect the president, believe in the president, and don't feel like they raised money and knocked on doors to then have him nominate a defense secretary who is clearly is anti-gay and anti-choice. I think what you hear a lot from the progressive community is: Couldn't he find someone who is just as qualified on defense issues who doesn't have these other views that we find abhorrent?"
Though Tusk claims this campaign is being funded by progressive members of the gay community, LGBT groups have criticized Tusk for keeping his donors secret, and Rachel Maddow has suggested that it’s most likely funded by right wingers disguising themselves as liberal. The NYT article suggests that this campaign is really being financed by GOP forces allied with hawks on Israel and who may want to hand Obama a defeat.  According to the NY Times:
In an interview, Mr. Tusk would only identify its financiers as Democratic “gay and L.G.B.T. people who have been active in campaigns around the country.” Yet federal records show that Use Your Mandate uses Del Cielo Media, an arm of one of the most prominent Republican ad-buying firms in the country, Smart Media, with clients that have included the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah and Senator John McCain of Arizona; the 2010 Senate campaign of Christine O’Donnell, who was known for positions against homosexuality, in Delaware; and, as it happens, the Emergency Committee for Israel. 

Who is Bradley Tusk and why is this relevant to NYC education?

Tusk is the former Lt. Governor and right hand man to former Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who is now serving a 14 year sentence for corruption. Subsequently, Tusk became the manager of Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral campaign, which spent $109 million and won by only 4.5  percentage points, after inundating NYC voters will hundreds of mailers like those being sent out about Hagel.  Tusk’s website also takes credit for running the campaign that lifted the cap on charters for DFER/ERN and the hedgefunders, and states that he now works for Michelle Rhee’s StudentFirst NY and Eva Moskowitz’s chain of Success Academy charters:

With StudentsFirst, led by Michelle Rhee, we have played an integral role in the first comprehensive attempt to pursue and implement education reform across the country. This includes launching full campaigns in target cities and states across the nation. With the Success Charter Network, Tusk Strategies has helped introduce high performing charter schools to new neighborhoods across New York City.

Tusk was also paid $1.5 million of $2 million of the Facebook money for “community engagement”, that was supposed to go towards improving Newark’s schools. [Community engagement with whom, one wonders.  Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Rhee and the hedge fund community?].

His website brags that he helped organize an education forum in October 2011 during the Presidential campaign,  with four GOP candidates, co-hosted by the College Board and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation:  “While all of the GOP candidates were invited to participate, only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum attended in person, with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Cain speaking via satellite.”  Who moderated?  None other than our former chancellor, Joel Klein.

As the mayoral campaign heats up, expect Tusk to engage in similar tricks, either openly or secretly on behalf of Bloomberg, Rhee, Eva and the charter lobby, to try to ensure they keep and enlarge their control of education policy and hold on real estate in NYC public school buildings.

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