Charter school advocates Tepper, Skinner linked to Jersey City United flyer

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David Tepper and Shelly Skinner, two of the most well-known New Jersey charter school advocates, are linked to at least one mailer sent out for a team running in the Jersey City Board of Education race.

The Jersey City United slate. From left to right: Matt Schapiro, Luis Felipe Hernandez and Asmaa Abdalla. Photos via jerseycityunited.com.
The Jersey City United slate. From left to right: Matt Schapiro, Luis Felipe Hernandez and Asmaa Abdalla. Photos via jerseycityunited.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

A Jersey City United flyer being left on cars in Jersey City last week called for “challenging the status quo to insure (sic) great schools in all Jersey City communities” and “more money in classrooms by eliminating wasteful spending,” among other goals.

The flyer also identifies the three candidates, Matt Schapiro, Luis Felipe Fernandez and Asmaa Abdalla, as Democrats and includes a photo of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with her slogan “we’re with her.”

Better Education for New Jersey Kids, a super PAC with an address in New Brunswick, is designated as the entity that paid for the campaign literature.

According to their official website, the PAC is run by Executive Director Michael Lilley and the trustees are Alan Fournier, Michael Lilly and Larry Rogers.

Based on reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC), the super PAC contributed $3,071.64 to the now defunct Parents for Progress slate in 2013, as well as another 7,261.84 in 2014.

Micheline Amy, Ellen Simon and Jessica Daye ran on the four-person Parents for Progress ticket in 2013 (incumbent Carol Lester lost), but are not seeking re-election this year.

Additionally, Fournier made an individual donation of $9,405 to the 2013 P4P slate, and Tepper, a billionaire hedge fund manager, chipped in $9,880 to the team. The latter is also recorded as having made a $5,200 contribution to the P4P ticket in 2014.

While Tepper does not sit on the Better Education for New Jersey Kids, Inc. board of trustees, he is a trustee for the related entities Better Education for Kids, Inc. and Better Education Institute Inc.

Tepper also made a $2,600 donation to then-Councilman Steven Fulop on September 26, 2012 ahead of his successful bid for mayor in 2013, adding a $10,400 contribution to Fulop’s council ticket on the same day.

Meanwhile, Skinner, the executive director of Better Education Institute, Inc., had no history of contributions to P4P.

Fulop was a driving force behind P4P’s Jersey City BOE victories for several years until 2014, where the Jersey City Education Association won in definitive fashion.

As he did in 2015, the mayor and expected Democratic gubernatorial candidate recently endorsed the JCEA-backed Education Matters ticket.

Furthermore, Schapiro a first-time candidate in 2016 that previously worked as a political operative on several P4P campaigns, gave a broad answer when asked what role the PAC and the people related to it were playing in the Jersey City United campaign.

“We make the same promise to our supporters that we make to every student, parent, and resident of Jersey City: That we will work every day to drive our district’s schools to be the best they can be,” he said in an email.

“And we are happy to accept the support of anyone who shares our united vision for a Jersey City in which every student, from every family, in every neighborhood, attending every school, receives a world-class education.”

As of this writing, Jersey City United had not filed a report with ELEC and one is not due until October 11.

Skinner, who ran Fulop’s council campaign in 2009, could not be reached at her office or via email this morning.

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