I suppose the one good thing to come out of this is that Campbell Brown, who has absolutely no business talking about education in any way, finally reveals herself as the stealth Romney campaign advisor we have all known she is.
Before I discuss her despicable effort to "Willy Horton" the American Federation of Teachers and President Randi Weingarten in particular, let's just review who Campbell Brown is. She is a long-gone CNN White House correspondent, married to Dan Senor, and has no classroom experience or anything to suggest that she has authority when it comes to public education.
Still, that didn't stop her from writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal using Willy Horton tactics to smear the American Federation of Teachers yesterday by proclaiming that the AFT "goes to bat for sexual offenders." And if that wasn't enough, she then paraded herself onto Morning Joe Monday morning to whine about it and smear the teachers even more.
Surely that wasn't timed to coincide with the end of AFT's National Conference Monday, or Vice President Biden's rousing speech to the teachers in attendance on Sunday. Surely not. [Disclosure: I attended the conference at AFT's invitation]
Oh, I forgot one more thing Mrs. Senor forgot: Dan Senor is on the board of StudentsFirst NY. StudentsFirst NY is an arm of Michelle Rhee's education deform coalition, funded by Rupert Murdoch and others who have an interest in destroying teachers' unions. Dan Senor is also a senior Mitt Romney advisor, and smearing teachers' unions is one of Romney's top priorities. It certainly didn't hurt to have that Dan Senor/Morning Joe connection when Campbell wanted to put a little traction under her smear, either.
But you know, Campbell Brown should have checked with Michelle Rhee before taking this tack. Because now it's my non-reportorial duty as a citizen of this great country to point out that Michelle Rhee goes to bat for sexual predators, too. This is actually a story I haven't talked about because I happen to think Rhee's personal life should not be involved in her effort to wreck schools.
But Campbell Brown opened up Pandora's box, so let's just go ahead and lay it out there.
Michelle Rhee's husband Kevin Johnson was under federal investigation in 2009 for misuse of funds connected with his charter school, St. Hope Academy. This was a big right-wing story at the time, but mostly underreported by mainstream press or the left, because the Obama administration fired the OIG in charge of the investigation shortly after his report was issued. The timing gave rise to a shrill whine from the right wingers about cronyism, etc, while they ignored the actual report about Johnson's malfeasance. Here's a snippet of the letter from Chuck Grassley wrote concerning the investigation:
In September 2008, after reviewing the facts that the OIG investigation presented, the Corporation’s Debarment and Suspension Official (Official) determined that the grantee’s two principals, Kevin Johnson and Dana Gonzalez were responsible for six acts of diverting grant funds to non-grant purposes, and found that “immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest.”
In total about $850,000 was misused. As a result, the OIG requested that the Official suspend all future Federal grant funding to both St. HOPE Academy and Kevin Johnson and Dana Gonzales individually. The Official ultimately suspended St. HOPE Academy and its principals “from participating in Federal procurement and non procurement programs and activities.” None of the respondents exercised their right to submit facts objecting to the suspension.
What Grassley does not mention in his letter is that Kevin Johnson was also under investigation for inappropriate sexual conduct with a 16-year old student at the school. Skip to page 26 of the report below to read the specifics.
2009 OIG Report Re: Kevin Johnson
And what does this have to do with Dan Senor, Michelle Rhee and Campbell Brown? Well, it seems that Michelle Rhee actually interfered in the federal investigation, and covered for her "friend" Kevin Johnson, who she married in 2011.
When Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, was under investigation last year for alleged financial misdeeds and inappropriate behavior with female students, he had an important ally behind the scenes.
Michelle Rhee, the nationally known education reformer who is now head of the Washington, D.C., public schools, had several conversations with a federal inspector general in which she made the case for Johnson and the school he ran in Sacramento, according to the inspector general. Rhee, who had served on the board of the school and is now engaged to marry Johnson, said he was "a good guy."
What does this prove, really? It proves bad people exist everywhere. In unions and not in unions. In charter schools and in public schools. But the key difference is that when it comes to teachers' unions, publications like the Wall Street Journal allow intellectually dishonest so-called "journalists" to smear an entire group of people for the actions of a few. If I were to apply Campbell Brown's logic, I would smear every single charter school in the country because Kevin Johnson misused nearly a million dollars of taxpayer money and may have engaged in sexual misconduct, too. But I won't, because it's flawed, agenda-laden, political skullduggery.
Of course, we'll never know one way or the other, because Michelle Rhee married Kevin Johnson, so she wouldn't be compelled to give evidence against him in any prosecution one way or the other, and she interfered in the original investigation as well.
Where is Campbell Brown shouting about how the president of an organization covered up for a man who may have sexually assaulted young women in a charter school where there are ZERO requirements for any kind of due process before teachers are fired? Where is her outrage at the possibility that Kevin Johnson behaved inappropriately toward a minor and other Americorps volunteers without any investigation, largely because Michelle Rhee stood up and defended him as a "good guy"?
Sorry, but Campbell Brown has absolutely zero business writing about education, unions, or sexual misconduct as long as she's willing to disguise her obvious ties with StudentsFirst NY, Michelle Rhee, and Kevin Johnson and ignore the evidence on the record about their misconduct. Not only does her cynical ploy to discredit the AFT fall flat, it simply affirms her reputation as a Washington insider has-been who is trying to revive her career by papering over Mitt Romney's utter failure as a viable candidate.
[Footnote: Kevin Johnson is now the mayor of Sacramento, and despite right-wing claims that he's a darling of the Obama administration, the truth is that even Democrats can't stand the man. Or his wife.]