Monday, January 22, 2018

ECOT's political patrons are many and vast

Now that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is closed, it pays to step back and understand why a school that the Ohio Department of Education didn't approve in 1999 because it didn't think ECOT could effectively account for its students was shut down 18 years later because ... it couldn't effectively account for its students.

A major reason that this 18 year, more than $1 billion in state taxpayer funded operation was allowed to continue, despite repeated signs they weren't keeping track of their students. (One of those signs included an audit by then-Auditor Betty Montgomery that showed ECOT had overbilled taxpayers every year between 2001 and 2005.)

A big reason was ECOT founder William Lager's political contributions, primarily to powerful Republican lawmakers. According to (which tracks state and local campaign contributions from the early 1990s to present), Lager himself gave more than $1.2 million to primarily legislative candidates since 2000, less than 5 percent of which went to Democrats.

Included in those contributions are current Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted. They are now running for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. 

Another recipient has been current Auditor Dave Yost, who is running for Attorney General. Another is Keith Faber, who is running for Auditor.

The list includes Speakers of the House, Presidents of the Senate and chairmen and chairwomen of powerful legislative committees.

And while the school is now shut down, what is clear is that the reason it remained open as long as it was was because the school had powerful allies and protectors in state government. In fact, Lager often complimented the recipients of his largess at ECOT graduations (where many of the largest recipients spoke) and thanked them for stopping efforts to close or "harm" the school. 

Here is a list of the recipients who received more than $10,000 from Lager:

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