Steve Hinnefeld, Indiana blogger, writes about the political donations of billionaires who claim to be “liberal Democrats.” First and worst is Reed Hastings, who is CEO of Netflix. Hastings claims to be a supporter of women’s reproductive rights, but he has funded Republicans in Indiana who passed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the nation. Why? Because these same conservative Republicans support charter schools. Hastings has said that he looks forward to the day when there are no more school boards, and every school is a charter. So, his passion for charter schools is stronger than his commitment to women’s reproductive rights. His allies in Indiana also loosened restrictions on guns. Michael Bloomberg, who favors abortion rights and gun control, also bankrolled the same Republicans.

Hinnefeld writes:

Indiana Republicans are spending several million dollars to protect and extend their supermajority status in the state House and Senate in Tuesday’s election. If they succeed, they may want to thank a California billionaire. One who’s usually described as a liberal Democrat.

Reed Hastings is a CEO of Netflix. Politically, he’s known for donating to Democratic politicians, nationally and in California. Netflix supports liberal causes, like abortion rights. But in Indiana, his campaign contributions go almost entirely to Republicans, who trample on his supposed principles.

It’s possible Hastings has given more money to the Indiana House and Senate GOP campaigns than any other individual in the past couple of years. Not directly. The money is funneled through a political action committee called Hoosiers for Great Public Schools. The PAC, headed by former Democratic Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, was founded in 2020 to promote charter schools.

Almost all its direct support for candidates goes to Republicans.

Hastings has given the group $1.4 million, half of it in 2020 and half this year. It also got $200,000 from John Arnold, a Texas billionaire. That’s all the money it has raised.

Hoosiers for Great Public Schools has made campaign contributions totaling $926,000. Some $400,000 went to RISE Indy, a PAC that has supported charter-friendly candidates for the Indianapolis Public Schools board. Another $100,000 went to Hoosiers for Quality Education, which promotes school choice, including vouchers and education savings accounts, and gives exclusively to Republicans.

Of the remaining $426,000 that Hoosiers for Great Public Schools contributed, nearly all went to GOP candidates and groups. It has given $190,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee, $45,000 to the Senate Majority Campaign Committee, and $75,000 to House Speaker Todd Huston, along with four- and five-figure donations to individual Republicans.

That’s who Reed Hastings is helping elect in Indiana.

A similar story can be told about Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City. He’s known for supporting liberal causes, including gun control and abortion rights. In recent years, Bloomberg has given $550,000 to Stand for Children Indiana, which supports charter schools. All of Stand for Children’s state-level contributions this year have gone to Republicans.

There’s a cynical argument for such behavior: If you have money and you want to influence Indiana politics, you give to Republicans, because they have the power.

Peterson, CEO of Christel House International, which operates charter schools in Indianapolis, told me in 2020 that the purpose of Hoosiers for Great Public Schools was to support charter schools. But Indiana Republicans are no longer in love with charter schools. In 2021, they gave charters a modest funding increase. In 2022, they did nothing. They have moved on to favoring a more radical form of school choice in which state money “follows the child,” including to private and religious schools.

What did Hastings get with his support of the Indiana GOP? For one thing, a new law that says Hoosiers don’t need a permit to carry a handgun in public. For another, a discriminatory anti-trans law that bars transgender students from school sports teams. Republicans also tried to restrict what schools could teach about “divisive topics” – i.e., racism and slavery – but fell short.

Shame on Reed Hastings!

Shame on Michael Bloomberg!

Shame on John Arnold!