Levi G. Williams, Jr. served as the board attorney for non-profit foundations tied to a local charter school company which sabotaged a 2013 Broward Republican Party motion opposing Common Core. Williams,a Fort Lauderdale attorney, is a candidate for chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC). Sources claim Williams is the preferred candidate of former BREC chairman and officials with deep ties to Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) of Fort Lauderdale.
Public records show Levi Williams is the board attorney for the Lee Charter Foundation, Inc. and the Florida Charter Educational Foundation, Inc. These non-profit foundations act as a buffer between the schools and the for-profit charter school companies. A report from the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County states, “Although charter schools must, by Florida law, be overseen by a non -profit board of directors, there are many ways in which for-profit organizations have begun to highjack the charter school movement. For-profit management companies frequently provide everything from back office operations including payroll, contracting with vendors for food services, textbook, etc., to hiring principals and teachers and curriculum control; so what was sold to parents and children as a local public education innovation now looks more like national charter-chains, the ‘Waltmartization’ of public education.”
The Lee Charter Foundation, Inc. oversees Charter Schools USA in Lee County, Florida. While these schools are located in the Fort Myers area, the Lee Charter Foundation, Inc. board meets at Charter Schools USA headquarters in Fort Lauderdale. Ken Haiko is the chairman of Lee Charter Foundation, Inc. and Florida Charter Educational Foundation, Inc. Mr. Haiko is the former vice-chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee.
Last Thursday, Ken Haiko attended the BREC officers debate in Coral Springs. He was there to support Levi Williams.
CHARTER SCHOOL ALLIES SABOTAGE BREC COMMON CORE MOTION
Back in September 2013, Haiko and Williams attended the monthly Broward Republican Executive Committee in Fort Lauderdale. The agenda included a motion opposing the Common Core educational standards in Florida schools. Published reports claimed Haiko and the Charter Schools USA allies sabotaged the passage of the motion.
“At the September 23 meeting of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC), education activist Thais Alvarez introduced a resolution supporting a recent Republican National Committee resolution opposing Common Core. With the majority of committee members opposing Common Core, the passage of the resolution was never in doubt. However, members never got a chance to vote thanks to the intervention of several former party leaders.After the motion to consider the resolution was announced, Ken Haiko, the former vice chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, suggested there was not a quorum. Under parliamentary rules, a body cannot conduct business if a majority of its members are not in attendance.”
According to Media Trackers Florida, “Several supporters of Charters Schools USA appeared to leave the meeting in order to ensure there would not be a quorum and therefore no vote would be taken. One of these supporters is Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.”
Is Levi Williams Hiding His Ties To Charter Schools?
Before the November general election, BREC members were surprised to receive a mailer from Levi Williams. The mailer featured Williams’ endorsement of candidates as well as his resume and photograph. Many believed this was a clear signal Williams would run for BREC chair again. Williams was a last minute candidate in the special 2013 BREC election. He was nominated by David DiPietro, the “political guru” of Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.
The mailer states, “Levi serves our community by volunteering on state and local non-profit boards.” Williams lists previous positions with Broward College, the Broward School District and the State Board of Education. But Williams makes no reference to his current role with the charter schools foundation.
Perhaps Williams does not want his ties to former BREC officials known to the BREC membership. The current members are not fans of Common Core, charter schools and the former BREC chairman tied to Charter Schools USA: Ed Pozzuoli and Shane Strum.
In 2012, “The Chairman” were behind the ill-fated BREC candidacy of Karen Harrington. Sources believed the group of former chairman urged Harrington to challenge Chairman Richard DeNapoli. When it became clear Harrington could not win, the Chairman denied all ties to her campaign. However, Harrington set the record straight about their games in a scathing email to the BREC membership.
This is the latest example of Williams’ deep ties to Broward’s political elite. Last week, REDBROWARD revealed Williams’ 2000 campaign for Broward County School Board was funded by Democrat lobbyists and politicians.
One of Williams’ earliest supporters was Perry E. Thurston, Jr. of Fort Lauderdale. Williams received a contribution from Thurston on November 2, 1999.
Mr. Thurston is the Democrat minority leader of the Florida House of Representatives. REDBROWARD reported Thurston played residency games in order to keep his Florida House seat. The two-story home in Plantation Thruston shares with his wife and children lies outside his House district. Thurston claims to live in a run-down Fort Lauderdale home with a convicted felon. This year, Thurston ran for the Democrat nomination for Florida Attorney General. One of his closest advisers is lobbyist and salami sandwich doyenne Judy Stern.
In January 2000, Williams received a campaign contribution from Fort Lauderdale lobbyist Russ Klenet. He is married to Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, a Democrat. The controversial Klenet is a lobbyist for the entities behind the Florida Panthers hockey club.
In April 2000, Williams received a $500 contribution from Fort Lauderdale consultant Sheryl Dickey. Last month, REDBROWARD revealed how Dickey used public funds to renovate office space for Democrat politicians. Dickey is a close supporter of controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Hopefully, Broward Republicans will be able to ask Williams about his ties to charter schools, lobbyists and Democrat politicians at the next BREC debate this Thursday. The membership deserves answers before the December election.