Charleston County Democratic Senator Robert Ford says there is no ulterior motive to his endorsement of a school choice bill backed mostly by conservative Republicans. In a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the State House, Ford enthusiastically endorsed the measure that would provide tax credits for parents who choose to send their children to a private school or public school outside of their district if the school within their district is deemed to be a failing school. Skeptics point out that Ford is fishing for support from conservative voters for his run for Governor in 2010. Ford says he has not received any pledge of support for his campaign from noted New york city real estate broker and school choice backer Howard Rich, but Ford achknowledged that Rich and others are helping with the school choice movement in the state.
“The only thing Howard Rich, Bill Gates, and all those billionaires on this thing can do for me is to provide resources like they agreed with my proposal. Here is what they did for me. They printed 500-thousand brochures (on the school choice option) like the ones I passed out, and they mailed them to people who voted in the Democratic Primary on January 29th.
Those with ties with Howard Rich contributed thousands of dollars to Katrina Shealy’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign to unseat Lexington County Senator Jake Knotts.
Ford says he came to the decision to support the bill when he had a chance to study what other states are doing to combat failing achools. “We started going to different states to find out what’s going on. We went to 19 states to look at their systems. Incidently, Georgia has also passed this bill and the state of Florida led by the Black Caucus.”