by David Safier
Ann-Eve Pedersen looks at the theft of half a million dollars by an employee of the STO, Arizona School Choice Trust (ASCT), in a segment of our cable access program, Education: The Rest of the Story. "STO" is short for School Tuition Organization, an organization that uses tuition tax credits, aka backdoor vouchers, to pay for students' private school tuition.
What makes this theft of taxpayer money noteworthy is that ASCT is run by members of the Goldwater Institute, an organization whose six-figure-salaried spokespeople scream about waste and mismanagement in the public sector. Yet a half million dollars of taxpayers' money was stolen from under their noses over a number of years, and nobody noticed. Watchdog, watch thyself.
[Headline Correction: Lucy Caldwell, Communications Director for the Goldwater Institute, contacted me requesting that I correct some "factual inaccuracies" in this post. She noted that the Arizona School Choice Trust is not a "Goldwater Institute-Run STO" as I stated in the headline. She is correct. Clint Bolick, Vice President for Litigation at G.I., is the Chairman of the ASCT board, but he does that on his own time. I regret the error. Caldwell also said it was factually inaccurate for me to write that "ASCT is run by members of the Goldwater Institute." She maintains I should not have written "members," since Bolick is the only G.I.-affiliated board member. In this instance, I am going to stick with my original statement. Another current board member is Matthew Ladner. He was G.I.'s vice president of research, mainly dealing with educational issues, until he left to work at Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education. However, Ladner is still listed as a Senior Fellow on the G.I. website, meaning he has not severed ties with the Institute. Also worth noting is that Darcy Olsen, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute, served on the ASCT board from 2006 through 2009, which means three people who are part of G.I. have been board members of ASCT.]
[Odd Request For Further Correction: Lucy Caldwell emailed me again, writing that part of my correction above is incorrect. I mentioned that Matthew Ladner is listed as a Senior Fellow on the G.I. website, which is correct. However, according to Communications Director Caldwell, the information communicated on the website is incorrect.
Matt Ladner is not a senior fellow at the Institute. We disbanded our senior fellow program a long time ago. The fact that he has a bio that you can find on our site is a bug of our current site (which is under a major redesign) by which you cannot delete a person's bio without deleting everything they ever wrote/authored.
Matthew Ladner wrote an email confirming the dissolution of the Senior Fellow program.
I remember it distinctly as we were sent an thoughtful wall plaque thanking us for our service along with a letter explaining the dissolution of the program.
It's beyond me why it's taken the Goldwater Institute, with its multi-million dollar annual budget and its many six-figure salaried employees, this long to make a stab at fixing a portion of its website which has been wrong for quite awhile. Maybe they've all been too busy going after all those public sector folks who, they say, can never get anything right.]