Mississippians went to the polls recently to vote on Initiative 42, which required the state legislature to fully fund the public schools. The initiative failed.


Who funded the opposition to Initiative 42?


Not Mississippians. According to this account of the post-campaign financial filings, 75% of the money to fight Initiative 42 came from outside Mississippi.


Here is a report on the scoundrels that don’t want to spend another penny on the education of children in Mississippi. How about those Koch brothers! They are billionaires, yet they put up nearly a quarter of a million dollars to block any increase in funding the education of children in Mississippi! What’s up with those guys? Why do national Republican PACs fight the fair funding of little children? Why is this an issue for them? I don’t get it. Here is an example of deceptive labeling: a group called “KidsFirst Mississippi” accepted the Koch money to oppose funding education for the kids. It should rename itself “KidsLast Mississippi” in the spirit of accurate advertising.


The article says:


Post-election campaign filings are revealing that opponents of Initiative 42, mostly from outside the state, spent much more money to defeat it than they were required to report before the polls closed. Initiative 42 would have changed the Mississippi Constitution to force the Legislature to follow state law and fully fund education or be subject to judiciary consequences. Campaign-finance reports for registered PACs and PICs were due on Nov. 10 for committee spending in October.


The Improve Mississippi Political Initiative Committee is the PIC that primarily ran the “No on 42” campaign with TV ads and a website, promoting fear that one (presumably black) judge in Hinds County would control education funding if 42 passed. Records filed Nov. 10 show the group spent $844,750 to defeat the citizen ballot.


About 82 percent of that money came from one donor: the RSLC Mississippi PAC, which is the state PAC arm of the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington, D.C.-based 527 political organization dedicated to “elect down-ballot, state-level Republican leaders.”


The RSLC Mississippi PAC gave $600,000 to the Improve Mississippi PIC in October, the PIC’s October campaign-finance report showed. Because RSLC Mississippi PAC did not donate to individual candidates in this election cycle, the PAC was not required to file reports, Secretary of State spokeswoman Pamela Weaver wrote in an email to the Jackson Free Press.


However, the RSLC Mississippi PAC’s latest report shows that it also donated $30,000 to The Watchdog PAC and $100,000 to the Mississippi House Republican Caucus PAC in September. The Watchdog PAC’s October campaign finance report reveals $100,000 in year-to-date donations from the RSLC Mississippi PAC on Oct. 9.


The Watchdog PAC then donated $90,000 to the Improve Mississippi PIC on Oct. 14, 19 and 27. If the Watchdog PAC used RSLC’s donation to fund its Improve MS PIC donation, which is unclear, the Republican State Leadership Committee gave $690,000 of the $844,750 donations used to defeat Initiative 42 through the PIC.


The Republican State Leadership Committee did not respond to requests for phone interviews, but instead provided emailed statements. RSLC is a national organization that focuses on state-level Republican leadership, largely through individual PAC arms for states. Funding for the 527 comes from several large, national corporations. According to 2014 Open Secrets data, RSLC’s top donors last year included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Reynolds American, Las Vegas Sands and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, who together donated more than $6 million. Walmart Stores and Koch Industries were also on the top-10 highest donor list.


Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ national advocacy organization, donated $239,097 to the KidsFirst Mississippi PAC, the other prominent anti-42 PAC, which placed radio, Facebook, Google and other media ads against Initiative 42, campaign-finance records show. The KidsFirst PAC only reported spending $123,193 on its October campaign-finance report.