by David Koon
Interesting story here (hit tip to eLwood for bringing it to our attention) about a new California-based venture by Greg Penner, son-in-law to Walmart board chairman Rob Walton, that seeks to influence elections at the state level.
Though the group, called Govern For California, bills itself as non-partisan, the other two heads of the effort are a Democrat who worked for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (and who is prone to decrying the idea that public workers should have collective bargaining rights) and billionaire registered Republican Ronald Conway. As for Penner, the article says he spent a quarter-mil of his own money in 2006 to help defeat an initiative that would have created a statewide preschool system in California by taxing earners making more than $400,000 a year. Both Penner and Conway are listed as having "no party affiliation" on the group's website.
It looks like Penner and his friends may be carrying on the longstanding Walton family tradition of monkeying around with the gears of public education: Govern for California recently endorsed their first candidate, State Assembly candidate Brian Johnson, who is the executive director of Larchmont Charter School, one of the biggest charter schools in L.A.