It was reported earlier this week that Pennsylvania State Senator and gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner hired John Kennedy, the former chairman of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, as chair of the Scott Wagner for Governor committee. Our reporting following up on Senator Wagner’s campaign chair showed that Kennedy’s organization, Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, had deep financial ties with Betsy DeVos’ Students First. The organization formed in 2010 and received a total of $1.09 million from Students First during the 2012, 2014 and 2016 election cycles.
It is now safe to assume that the connections between Senator Wagner’s campaign for governor and the billionaire conservative activist Betsy DeVos are personal. On November 23, 2016, Senator Wagner sends an email to his supporters from his Scott Wagner for Senate account explaining that he attended the quarterly Republican Governor’s Association meeting. At the meeting, there was a panel discussion named “Opportunities for American Children,” and one of the panelist was Betsy DeVos. The email then reads:
There were three Governors who participated on the education discussion panel along with two other highly knowledgeable experts on education. One of the panel participants was Betsy DeVos – who is the Chairman of the American Federation for Children.
After the panel discussion Betsy joined our table for lunch. Very simply put, Betsy DeVos is one sharp woman. She is exceptionally knowledgeable on public school education and she is full of cutting edge ideas. We exchanged business cards and I intended to follow up with Betsy to discuss ideas for Pennsylvania’s public schools.
It is still very early in the 2018 gubernatorial election cycle, but Pennsylvania Senator Scott Wagner is aligning himself with a billionaire family that has been dubbed the “New Koch Brothers.” Betsy and Dick DeVos has a public track record on spending big money when it comes privatizing public education and breaking union rights in Rust Belt States that were once Democratic and labor strongholds. Pennsylvania is next on their list.