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Michael Bloomberg donates $350,000 to L.A. school board race

The New York City mayor's contribution to a political action committee led by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will benefit board candidate Antonio Sanchez.

April 24, 2013|By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg donated $350,000 to the Los Angeles school board campaign this week, records show.

Bloomberg's contribution, which was filed Tuesday, will enlarge the already sizable war chest of the Coalition for School Reform, a political action committee led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The goal of the coalition is to back candidates who will support the policies of L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and pledge to keep him on the job.

Before the March primary, Bloomberg contributed $1 million for the three board races — the largest contribution ever made in an L.A. school board campaign. Bloomberg also gave a sizable donation of an undisclosed amount to the advocacy arm for the California Charter Schools Assn. That group spent close to $400,000 to support candidates in the election.

The beneficiary of the latest donation is Antonio Sanchez, 31, a former Villaraigosa aide. He is facing teacher and former attorney Monica Ratliff, 42, in a May 21 runoff to represent the east San Fernando Valley on the Board of Education.

The March primary yielded mixed results for the coalition, which spent about $3.8 million. One of its endorsed candidates won and another lost. In the loss, the coalition tried unsuccessfully to defeat incumbent Steve Zimmer, who was backed by employees' unions. Zimmer, a frequent swing vote, said he has not targeted Deasy for dismissal, and it's not clear that Deasy's job is on the line in the contest over the remaining seat.

But Deasy's supporters are taking no chances. Even before Bloomberg's latest donation, the coalition had put together more than $600,000 for the second round of a campaign on Sanchez's behalf. This total included $250,000 from local philanthropist Eli Broad, who had already donated $250,000 for the first round. And StudentsFirst, the Sacramento-based advocacy group headed by former District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, gave $100,000 — after an earlier contribution of $250,000.

In the primary, money spent by or for Sanchez outpaced Ratliff's spending by a ratio of about 84 to 1.

So far, Ratliff has reported raising $7,297 for the runoff. Sanchez has reported raising $14,880.

United Teachers Los Angeles endorsed all the candidates in the race but did not provide any financial backing in the primary. For the runoff, the union gave $1,000 to Ratliff.

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