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Public Core is an organization of West Contra Costa County parents, teachers, community members, and school staff who fight for public control and accountability in our schools. We believe that public schools, open to all, are essential to the health of a democratic society. Our goal is high quality, inclusive public education for all students. We believe that the proliferation of privately-operated schools using public money will increase inequalities in education and in our society. We are dedicated to informing the public about the impact of publicly-funded, privately operated schools on our community.

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The Story of Pro-charter Money in the 2014 Election


This is the story of how pro-charter money entered the WCCUSD school board race in 2014.

Summary: In 2014, the Chamberlins and the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee together spent a combined $650,000 to control the outcome of the election for WCCUSD Board members. More than 90% of that money was provided as independent expenditures to support and oppose candidates. Click here for summary spreadsheet

As you review the timeline and these documents, contemplate a couple of things:
1) Education Matters (the Chamberlins’ pro-charter PAC) gave $350,000 and John Scully gave $465,000 to the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee on April 21st, 201 and March 8th, 2016 respectively. See

2) Valerie Cuevas and several long-time district critics have called for a limit to individual donations to board campaigns of $1,000. It has no bearing on independent expenditures.


April-May, 2014

A local PAC forms, called “Parents for Better Education,” for the purpose of opposing Measure H, which was a bond measure to continue the district-wide building program. Unsurprisingly, the PAC founders were district critics of the Bond program. See 20140522_Form465_ParentsForBetterEducation_OpposeMeasureH5.6K.pdf

The contributors fell into the same category, a subset of members of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. Their combined expenditure against Measure H was about $8,000, with most of the money coming from the Chamberlins ($1,000) and the California Charter School Association ($5,000).
See 20140721_Form460_ParentsForBetterEducation_OpposeMeasureH8K.pdf
Spoiler alert – it was not in vain – the measure was soundly defeated.


September, 2014

Liz Block is supported by James Koshland, a Silicon Valley attorney, Education Matters (the local organization that is connected with Steve Chamberlin), and a Layfayette business called, “Interstate Storage.” See

Valerie Cuevas is supported by all three of those that Block was supported by, plus Honor PAC (a Los Angeles organization) and the mysterious 860 Harbor Way LLC, which has a distinctly Richmond name, but is listed on the filing form as “Lafayette”. See 20140911_Form497_860HarborWayLLC_Support_Cuevas1.5K.pdf

At this point, it appears from the filings to date, that we’re just dealing with smallish contributions. Not that many of us can write $1,000 and $2,500 checks to a political campaign, but it was within the scale of previous election cycles in the area. And the Education Matters support to Cuevas was “In Kind,” meaning it was time or services, not money.


October, 2014

Cuevas and Block both receive hefty but “normal” individual donations from both Stephen Chamberlin and Susan Chamberlin -- $2,500. See

And then, Liz Block receives two big direct contributions:
$15,000 from John Scully, founder of Making Waves charter school in Richmond, and
$4,000 from and Ron Beller and Jennifer Moses, founders of Caliber charter school. See


The California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee files an Independent Expenditure Report recording that they spent $22,334 to oppose Peter Chau. See: 20141031_Form496_CCSAAdvocIndepExpComm_Oppose_Chau22K.pdf

Education Matters also files a form showing that in October, they spent $30,948 to oppose Madeline Kronenberg. See

And that’s it – that’s all we know, until well after the election. If you want a refresher, here is how it turned out:


January, 2015

This is when we started to find out about the big money.
The California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee filed a “Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report” on the last day of January, which revealed that they spent $127,000 to oppose Kronenberg (who won anyway). See


February, 2015

In late February, that same organization – the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee filed two independent expenditure reports showing that they supported Liz Block with $111,000 and Valerie Cuevas with more than $87,000. See:

Altogether, with the opposition to Kronenberg, that’s $325,000. We were stunned, but we thought that was probably the extent of it. We were wrong.


April, 2015

In late April, Education Matters, a 501(c)(4) Political Action Committee founded by Stephen and Susan Chamberlin, filed six Supplemental Independent Expenditure Reports that revealed they spent the following big bucks to control the election:
$129,000 to support Liz Block
$ 96,000 to support Val Cuevas
$ 31,000 to oppose Madeline Kronenberg
$   6,000 to oppose Peter Chau
That’s $262,000 the Chamberlin’s organization spent to buy the school board. See


July, 2015

At the end of July, a full 9 months after the election, the Cuevas campaign filed its Recipient Committee report, which lists all her donors in two time groups – Jan 1-Sept30, 2014, and Oct 1-Oct 18, 2014. Not a lot of surprises, but interesting nonetheless. See:

Note: The money that Madeline Kronenberg raised and spent on her own campaign was in increments of <$10,000, mostly from architectural firms and building trades organizations.  It totaled about $105,000, which is half of what the Chamberlins and the CCSA spent to support either of the pro-charter candidates. There were no independent expenditures to support Kronenberg or any of the other candidates.

Are you interested in who is spending to influence the 2016 Election?

Join us in following the money!

  • See CCSA PAC
  • Go to the CoCoVote website, and click on the CampaignDocs Web Public Access site link, which is in the middle of the page.

Once there, you can enter a candidate’s name, a PAC name, the District name, etc. to follow the money.

Here are the 2016 Deadlines*
Aug 1 – Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement – to cover contributions Jan 1 - June 30, 2016

Aug 10 – Nov 8 – During the 90-day period before an election or on the date of the election, any committee or individual spending an aggregate $1,000 or more to support or oppose a candidate must file within 24 hours of the donation or expenditure. Applies to forms 496 (Indep Expenditure Report) and 497 (Contribution Report)

Sept 29 – Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement – to cover contributions July 1 – Sept 24, 2016

Oct 27 – Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement – to cover contributions Sept 25 – Oct 22, 2016

Jan 31, 2017 – Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement – to cover contributions Oct 23 – Dec 31, 2016

*contains more detail