“Those are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others”—Groucho Marx
California readers will be interested in this item, which Diane Ravitch posted on her blog today. It discusses the $143,000 in political contributions that Reed Hastings gave to 74 Missouri Republicans, including 73 Republicans who voted for a controversial abortion ban bill and the Republican Governor Mike Parson, who signed the bill last month. As explained here, Hastings said that his contributions were specifically in support of a bill, HR 581, which would have expanded the jurisdictions in which a charter school could be established (charter schools in Missouri are currently limited to specific cities and districts). The bill drew bi-partisan opposition and, after a filibuster, was dropped from the calendar without a vote.
But I have to wonder—why would Reed Hastings, a self-described progressive Democrat, be so interested in charter school expansion in another state that he maxes out on political contributions to anti-choice Republicans? Especially on behalf of a bill that had bi-partisan opposition and was unlikely to pass. The mystery deepens when we consider that the best thing that can be said about charter schools in Missouri is that they have been less than stellar. According to thiseditorialin The Missourian, the expansion of charter schools “should be rejected unless legislators agree to improve accountability and oversight of charter schools — and unless lawmakers allocate additional funds for public schools.” So how is it that support for an unpopular bill to allow the expansion of mediocre charter schools in another state can trump one’s core progressive principles?
Well, as CEO of Netflix, Hastings has other principles. While he has made personal contributions to Missouri Republicans, it turns out that his company, Netflix, has also recently hired a lobbying firm to work in Missouri, as reported here. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, legislation in that state to extend video service provider fees to non-cable companies like Netflix died without a hearing.