Florida based Foundation for Excellence in Education, (“FEE”) the creator of the so-called “Florida Option” helped draft NM SB 427 the “education reform” bill. Why? Could it be that this “non-profit”, formed by Jeb Bush, Zachariah P. Zachariah and Brian Yablonski, figured out a way to make money off of New Mexico taxpayers? In letting FEE write our bill did anyone bother to research FEE’s creators? Perhaps they just took Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera’s word for it. Hanna Skandera is exceptionally close to Bush and others at the Foundation for Excellence in Education. So it’s no surprise that she opened the door for them to come to New Mexico to “fix” public education. A close looat FEEs founders leaves little doubt about where their true interests lie: Making money. Lots of it.
Governor Susana Martinez, campaigned on a platform of ethics and transparency in government. On paper prohibiting her administration from doing business with corrupt entities. Somebody forgot to tell Skandera, since she has joined forces with some very ethically challenged folks. As a non-profit, the Foundation for Excellence in Education does not disclose its donors, who provide almost $3 million in annual funding to them. However, according to a recent New York Times article, FEE receives a substantial amount of it’s funding from “for-profit education technology companies.”
So Foundation for Excellence in Education champions channeling massive amounts of tax dollars to these for-profit education technology companies who give them a whole bunch of money. Lepke would be so proud!
While much of the focus on FEE has been about Jeb Bush, it is the two other founders, Zachariah P. Zachariah and Brian Yablonski that really show just how ethically challenged FEE is. Zachariah is best known as a heavyweight Republican fundraiser a, Bush Pioneer and the head of the Florida medical board, while Yablonksi, who was Jeb Bush’s chief of staff, serves as a commissioner on Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and is the Vice President of Public Affairs for the St. Joe’s Company, Florida’s largest private landholder.
In December 2010, a Florida Grand Jury, convened to investigate government corruption in Florida, turned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into the poster child for corruption in Florida. In the grand jury’s interim report issued in December 2010 they wrote, “We heard testimony as previously mentioned about massive fraud and abuse within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. In this case, numerous employees had knowledge of and participated in the fraud and abuse. The fraud and abuse was so prevalent that it had to be common knowledge within and outside the agency.”
So Yablonski, as a commissioner, is responsible for the most corrupt agency in Florida. But that’s not the only matter that raises serious questions about Yablonksi’s ethics. According to a recent SEC filing by St. Joe’s Company, “The Company previously disclosed in January 2011 that the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “ SEC ”) is conducting an informal inquiry into the Company’s policies and practices concerning impairment of investment in real estate assets. On June 24, 2011, the Company received notice from the SEC that it has issued a related order of private investigation. The order of private investigation covers a variety of matters for the period beginning January 1, 2007 including (a) the antifraud provisions of the Federal securities laws as applicable to the Company and its past and present officers, directors, employees, partners, subsidiaries, and/or affiliates, and/or other persons or entities.”
Thus, the St. Joe’s Company where Yablonski is a vice president and in charge of lobbying government agencies (while also working for the government) has been under SEC investigation for possible violation of anti-fraud security regulations since January 2011 for conduct dating back to January 1, 2007.
Zachariah P. Zachariah is no stranger to SEC investigations either. Zachariah faced a civil insider-trading fraud lawsuit from the SEC in which Zachariah, his brother and close friend were alleged to have “reaped a total of more than a half-million dollars in profits from their illicit scheme.” The SEC investigation, which lasted for several years, kept Zachariah from being appointed US Surgeon General by Jeb’s brother George W. Bush, who sought to nominate him, but then did not do so after word of the investigation broke. Zachariah wasaccused of providing insider tips to his brother and friend. Ironically, Zachariah skated at trial, while his brother and friend both admitted their roles including colluding with Zachariah and paid hefty fines for their illegal actions.
Zachariah was also successfully sued in a class action lawsuit in US District Court for refusing to pay mandatory overtime wages. He was successfully sued in US District Court on two different occasions by women accusing him of sexual discrimination. Finally, and perhaps most despicably, Zachariah, who is once again the