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Kenney rips Williams over PSP, donors

Former City Councilman Jim Kenney is criticizing state Sen. Anthony Williams over the support he receives from PACs.

If you can do a decent Michael Buffer impersonation, now might be a good time to bust out a hearty, "Let's get ready to rumble!"

Former City Councilman Jim Kenney today lashed out at fellow Democratic mayoral candidate state Sen. Anthony Williams over Williams' stance on a $25 million donation the Philadelphia School Partnership has offered to make to the School District of Philadelphia, in the name of boosting the number of charter schools in the city.

He also questioned money Williams has received from political action committees.

Kenney last week said the school district should not accept the PSP's money, because it was tied to "unnamed millionaires who already have far too great an influence in our upcoming mayoral election."

Williams told PhillyClout yesterday that the offer was "clearly a conversation starter" and worth considering, in light of the district's ongoing deficit woes.

Here's the full text of an email Kenney's campaign sent to the media:

"Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear that State Senator Williams is a single-issue candidate driven by the contributions from anonymous billionaires more concerned with making a profit than a quality school. The Senator is supported by no fewer than four PACs with either implicit or explicit education privatization missions.

"And, on the same day it was revealed that Williams accepted $7,000 from a PAC associated with PSP, the Senator came out in support of PSP's $25 million 'gift,' which has almost as many strings attached as these pro-voucher billionaires have attached to Anthony Williams himself. As Mayor, Jim Kenney will stand up to special interests and put our students and parents first."

Williams Week in Education PACs
Accepted $7K from PAC Associated with Philadelphia School Partnership "The Philadelphia School Partnership, the nonprofit that last week offered the School District $25 million to expand charter schools, now has an affiliated political action committee that has donated $7,000 to the mayoral campaign of State Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia...As a nonprofit organization, PSP can't make political contributions. The new PAC, called Excellent Schools PA,  is technically distinct from PSP, but Gleason signed its registration statement in September and its officers are closely affiliated with PSP or its lobbying arm, Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners. Of the roughly $104,000 that Excellent Schools PA has raised, $75,000 came from another political committee called Students First PAC, which is funded almost entirely by the three wealthy pro-voucher, pro-charter Bala Cynwyd donors who gave $5 million to Williams' 2010 gubernatorial campaign" [WHYY NewsWorks, 2/9/2015]

PAC Started to Fund Williams' Exploratory Committee Now Unaffiliated & Headed by a School District Employee, But Continues to Pay Williams Staff "The political committee formed early in 2013 to support the exploratory effort of mayoral candidate State Sen. Anthony Williams is now headed by a full-time employee of the Philadelphia school district...Believe Again is, by definition, no longer a Williams vehicle. But it's interesting to note that it paid $25,000 to Dawn Chavous, now a Williams campaign staffer between January and July of last year, and donated $10,000 to Williams campaign in December." [WHYY NewsWorks, 2/9/2015]

Williams To Be Supported By At Least Four Different Education Privatization PACs "It was reported on Monday that a group of influential "ed reformers" from Bala Cynwyd, who have advocated for charter school expansion, are again lining up behind candidate and State Sen. Anthony Williams. That organization, the Susquehanna International Group, also supported Williams' failed run for governor in 2010 and has pumped almost $500,000 into two political action committees (PACs), presumably to support his mayoral campaign. But Monday's campaign finance disclosures also revealed that other ed-reform PACs are moving to back Williams. One such organization, called Believe Again PAC, was registered back in 2012 and was later described by the Inquirer as a "fundraising vehicle" for Williams' mayoral ambitions....Perhaps unsurprisingly for a PAC that is closely associated with a pro-school-choice candidate like Williams, Believe Again PAC has ties to charter schools....A Washington, D.C.-based group called Leadership for Education Equity (LEE) registered a new PAC in Philadelphia on Dec. 5 of last year. The group has been widely documented as the political arm of Teach for America...TFA has drawn both praise and criticism, but it irrefutably has strong ties to the charter school movement. [, 2/4/2015]

Williams Education Plan "Half-Baked" "When Citified sat down with Sen. Anthony Williams last week for a lengthy interview, we asked him why he hadn't released an official mayoral platform. It had been two-and-a-half-months since he launched his campaign. He promised his platform would firm up soon. Sure enough, on Monday, he rolled out the first policy paper, which addresses education funding and accountability. It's thin...But Williams' paper is missing (at least) half of the equation: It says nothing about how much funding the city should provide to the schools, let alone how it should raise that money. Keep in mind that education has been Williams' central legislative focus. It's his passion. So where's the meat?" [Philadelphia Magazine, 2/9/2015]