When is a Conflict of Interest Considered Corruption?

A conflict of interest happens in a situation where a person or organization finds themselves with competing interests. But what if that situation is created by the person or organization? You’ll have to be the judge.

In November of 2023, IdahoEdNews published this information.

Boise nonprofit Bluum is ready to support the Idaho Public Charter School Commission — the state’s largest authorizer — with up to $750,000 in grant funds, particularly after recent research indicates that the agency authorizing charter schools matters.

The CEO of Bluum also helped in writing HO422 Accelerating Charter Schools by advising the interim director of the Idaho Charter Commission, a temporary appointee of the governor’s. Conflict of interest? Bluum does assist charter replication.

That in itself doesn’t seem like a problem. But it is all the surrounding circumstances and details of the bill that should have the public questioning this process. The ask is for more freedom from rules. Rules were already broken.

We know the money was offered by November. The bill surfaced in December at the Commission meeting. We heard “stakeholders”all agreed. But at least one member of the House Education Committee was taken by surprise when it came before them. So it’s not surprising that the public may not have heard anything about this bill. Even now? So how can it be assumed there is no opposition?

Is the public aware that this “grant” money is our federal taxes being spread through the education industry in this way? … But I digress.

The Bill —HO422 Accelerating Charter Schools— Will Accelerate the School Choice Movement

HO422 made claims in the purpose to be an update that incorporated what we have learned over the 26 years of charter law in Idaho. But that isn’t what it is. It is a legal mechanism to more easily build charter schools without local control in the process.

[Terry] Ryan [CEO Bluum] said Congress authorized and encouraged the use of these grant funds to strengthen authorizers. “We would love to partner with the commission in utilizing the funds to improve their capacities and their efforts. It’s part of the promise we made for this grant,” he said.

Don’t you already have collaboration and agreement before you write a federal grant for that much money?

Based on his research into federal law, Ryan is confident that there is not a conflict of interest, if an organization like Bluum works with an organization like Idaho’s charter commission.

That may be. But does it make any of this process right?

 HO422 passed the House and Senate Ed and is up for a vote in the Senate. Are Hillsdale Barney Charter Schools Multiplication a done deal? Are they simply part of the New Right’s Idaho “Conservative” Legislative Agenda?