Maurice Cunningham, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, has been tracking the movement of out-of-state “dark money” into local elections in Massachusetts. He exposed the source of millions of dollars that flowed into the state to press for passage of Question 2 in November 2016, for the purpose of lifting the limit on charter schools. Once the public understood that the Waltons and Wall Street were trying to buy their public schools to turn them private, dark money lost. Question 2 was overwhelmingly defeated.

After the election, state ethics officials fined the Dark Money conduit “Families for Excellent Schools” almost half a million dollars and directed them to stay out of the state for four years.

But they are back.

Now the privatization industry wants to buy a seat on the Malden school board.

There’s a race for school committee in Ward 3 Malden that is sending a signal about the direction of Massachusetts politics. Candidate Mekka Smith, chief of staff of charter school operator KIPP Massachusetts, is running away in the money race. And she’s doing it with backing from the Dark Money/Privatization Industrial Complex.

The money in this case isn’t hidden although it does involve a few of the reluctant stars of Families for Excellent School’s dark money disclosures from the 2016 charter school ballot question. Andrew Balson of Newton, who invested $100,000 in FES’s scheme, gave $1,000 to the Malden candidate. Charles Longfield, who posted $650,000 to FES’s secret stash, gave $250 to Ms. Smith. In 2016 he also gave $25,000 to Great Schools Massachusetts and $100,000 to the pro-charter Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools ballot committee. And along with the Walton family, the Longfield family funds Massachusetts Parents United (see here and here), whose state director occupied the same role for Banned-in-Boston Families for Excellent Schools.

The total amount invested by KIPP, including loans Ms. Smith made to herself, is $3,950. Individuals affiliated with Teach for America (backed in Massachusetts by Strategic Grant Partners) have contributed $1,500. Charter school backer and venture capitalist Arthur Rock of San Francisco contributed $500.

Candidate Smith raised $14,966 as of October 20. Excluding funds she has lent to her own campaign, she has raised $425 from Malden. Thus Malden residents have been outspent by investors from San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Newton, Cambridge, Boston, and Summit, NJ. And also of course by KIPP and TFA.

School committee races, especially ones for a small area like a ward, are usually sleepy little affairs funded by friends and family. But they have become of interest to investors who can tip a race with relatively small sums of money. This has been happening all over the country.

Even worse news. The fake reformers “Stand for Children” are funding races across the state. Keep your eye on “Stand.” They are a front for the big money.