Should billionaires choose Philly’s next mayor?.

By Posted in - Issues on May 1st, 2015

Joel Greenberg, Jeff Yass, and Arthur Dantchik, the partners of the Susquehanna International Group (SIG), spent six million dollars in 2010 to get Anthony Hardy Williams elected Governor. Now they want to make him Mayor. Their PAC, American Cities, has spent over a million dollars on TV ads with more coming to put Williams in City Hall.

How Did the Susquehanna Group Make Its Billions?

These three men made a sizeable fortune in Wall St.’s version of a poker game; high-frequency trading, a practice that has hurt pensioners and small investors.   SIG has been hit with upwards of 2.5 million in fines and has been sanctioned 63 times.   The whole operation generates profits from speculation rather than investment in growing an economy that creates jobs and real value.

What Do the SIG Partners Want?

To hear them tell it, their venture into politics is just about trying to help poor black children by promoting their version of school choice.   However an examination of their record reveals the three partners are a home grown version of the Koch brothers, willing to spend big money to advance a right wing agenda that benefits the one percent at the expense of working people generally and black people in particular.  The facts are that the partners :

  • have given $30,000 to the election efforts of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor who rolled back union rights in that state. More has come to Walker from groups like the American Federation of Children, another beneficiary of SIG money.
  • have given $2,000,000 to the pro-charter group Students First, founded by right-wing Amway heiress and conservative bankroller Betsy DeVos, sister of Erik Prince, the founder of the mercenary outfit formerly known as Blackwater.
  • are the main backers of a “tax credit for school scholarships” scheme that the Philadelphia Inquirer said cost Pennsylvania $127 million, “despite minimal oversight, regulatory loopholes and little evidence of its effectiveness”.
  • gave $20,000 to FreedomWorks, a group that helped lead the fight for “Voter ID” laws used to disenfranchise minority voters.
  • poured 4.6 million into the Cato Institute and Institute for Justice– two DC-area libertarian groups that favor policies that redistribute wealth to the rich.

 

Anthony Hardy Williams – Civil Rights Champion or Friend of the One Percent

Williams is a long time voucher and charter school advocate. His record as a legislator in Harrisburg shows that the Susquehanna Partners have good reason to invest in Williams candidacy.   In conjunction with the Corbett administration and Republicans he was co sponsor of the voucher like bill that created generous tax credits for businesses who contributed to private school scholarships, draining dollars for public schools.   He was the sponsor of a bill that would circumvent local district’s control over charters. He supported legislation that would weaken teacher tenure and seniority rights..   Indeed, Governor Corbett, who slashed a billion dollars from the education budget, picked Williams for his transition team, the only Democrat Senator so honored, praising Williams as a supporter of his policies.

Williams in his TV ads stresses his legacy as the son of Hardy Williams, a civil rights trail blazer, but, based on who supports him and his legislative record, we can expect a Mayor who will be a big business friendly, and aligned with the right of his own Party.   The Susquehanna partners know a good bet when they see one.

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SIG Williams v3