Ballot Question 2 is the most expensively fought voter referendum in Massachusetts history.
Proponents and opponents of efforts to lift the cap on charter schools in the state have already raised an astonishing $33 million. The donations for and against Question 2 are more than the $30 million spent on all ballot questions in 2014.
Those massive amounts have raised a lot of questions about who's financing these efforts.
On the no side, 99 percent of the funding came from teachers unions. On the yes side, three-quarters of the funding came from five nonprofit groups, which are not required to disclose their donors. The largest backer of Question 2 is a New York-based organization called Families for Excellent Schools. We requested to speak with their CEO, Jeremiah Kittredge, but they declined.
Of the rest of the funding in support of Question 2, nearly $4 million came from private donors who gave more than $10,000, including Jim and Alice Walton of the Walmart chain, Ray Stata of Stata Venture Partners, Charles Ledley of Highfield Capital Management, and Seth Klarman of the hedge fund the Baupost Group. We reached out to several of these large donors. They either declined, or didn't return our messages. Except for one.
Chuck Longfield, chief scientist at Blackbaud, a company that develops software and services for the nonprofit sector. He donated $100,000 in support of Question 2.
This segment aired on October 31, 2016.