published Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Georgia charter school sponsor now leads tax-supported foundation

ATLANTA — The sponsor of legislation permitting charter school systems in Georgia has formed a taxpayer-supported foundation to lobby for the schools.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (reports that former Senate Education Chairman Dan Weber, R-Dunwoody, has been asking charter school systems to contribute $2 per student to fund his Georgia Charter System Foundation. The foundation’s board meets this week and could approve a $10,000 a month salary for Weber, who has not previously been paid.

Weber, who left the Senate in 2010, said he’s sensitive to criticism about public officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. But he said he’s best situated to be executive director because he understands the charter school legislation and what policymakers are trying to do.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who wrote the 2007 charter school legislation, said Weber has a passion for improving education. “If he can make a living reforming public education, our children and our state are going to be better for it,” he said.

State law makes legislators wait a year after leaving office to sign up to lobby. Weber was not prohibited from registering to lobby in this year’s legislative session because he had been out of the Legislature longer than the law requires.

Still, former House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said, “When you had a hand in drafting something and a few years later are making money off what you have drafted, there should be some questions asked.”

Weber said at last count, the foundation had about $90,000 in the bank.

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