Wake Ed

June 10, 2014

Liberals revive charges linking Koch brothers to 2009 Wake County school board election

Liberals are reviving the charge that the Koch brothers elected the 2009 Wake County school board majority that made changes to the diversity policy, a charge that conservatives insist is not the case.

The contention that the Koch brothers put a conservative majority in power in the 2009 Wake County school board elections is being revived again as liberal groups around the country try to help win this year’s mid-term contests.

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald released an updated version of his “Koch Brothers Exposed” documentary that was shown last month in the U.S. Capitol. One of the charges in the hour-long documentary is that the Koch brothers got the Republican-backed majority elected to the school board in 2009. The accuracy of that argument is hotly debated locally but taken as gospel nationally by critics of the Koch brothers.

“Greenwald focuses on North Carolina's Wake County school board elections in 2009, a hyper-local event that would seem to be too small to draw the attention of a couple of billionaires,” the Huffington Post wrote last month. “Yet that year, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity backed enough candidates to take control of the board and then vote to end the school district's long-running, successful desegregation plan.”

As noted in this 2011 N&O article, local Republicans said the Koch brothers were not involved in the 2009 elections. Even some of the people interviewed in the original Greenwald video backed off from linking the Kochs to the 2009 elections.

The original video helped fuel what would be a record amount spent for a Wake school board election in 2011 that put Democrats back in the majority.

The updated film isn’t the only one that ties the Koch brothers to what happened in Wake County.

“They worked to end a celebrated school integration program in Wake County, North Carolina,” writes Brad Woodhouse,president of American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive research and communications Super PAC, in an opinion piece on the Koch brothers that ran last week on CNN’s website.

Dave Pruett charges Monday in a Huffington Post blog post that the Koch brothers are trying to “privatize education” through groups such as Americans For Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Should there be any doubt as to the sinister aims of these organizations, consider the case of Wake County, NC, where a local AFP affiliate commandeered the school board in 2009 and immediately effected policies to re-segregate the school system,” writes Pruett, a former NASA researcher and emeritus professor of Mathematics, James Madison University.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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