Who is Howard Rich?
Howard Rich, 70, is a libertarian political activist and real estate developer from New York City. A director of the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation, Rich has used his vast personal wealth in an effort to build a state legislature in South Carolina that will support his plan to divert public money to private schools through school vouchers and tax credits.
Howard Rich's involvement in South Carolina politics involves three main aspects:
1. Bypassing state contribution limits by using numerous LLC's to fund political candidates in local races, and keeping voters in the dark by making contributions after the candidate's final public disclosure.
2. Funneling even more money into SC campaigns from Utah, California, and elsewhere through a network of wealthy associates.
3. Establishing and funding "grass-roots" voucher lobbying groups in South Carolina to give the appearance of support for his agenda in our state.
Howard Rich's substantial involvement in South Carolina politics and the methods used to support his private school voucher plan have profound implications for South Carolina's government, our public schools, and the integrity of our state’s political processes.
Bypassing SC's Campaign Contribution Limits
Individual contributions to political candidates in South Carolina are limited to $3500 for statewide offices and $1000 for State House candidates per election cycle.
To leverage his influence on South Carolina elections and evade South Carolina's campaign contribution limits, Howard Rich contributes through about 30 entities he owns or controls from his addresses at 73 Spring Street, New York City, and 1420 Walnut Street, Suite 1011, Philadelphia.
These entities include: Dayrich LLC, Bayrich LLC, Stilrich LLC, Streetrich LLC, Newrich LLC, Springrich Limited Partnership, Rich & Rich Associates, Rich Acquisitions, 123 LaSalle Inc., 123 LaSalle Associates, 4220 Broadway LLC, 4220 Broadway Inc., 188 Claremont LLC, Spooner LLC, Trucker 49 LLC, 405 49 Associates, Secure Data LLC, Ashborough Investors LLC, Rosemeade Investors LLC, 332 E 11 LLC, 470 W 166 LLC, Spinksville LLC, 538-14 Realty LLC, and several others listed below.
In 2008, Howard Rich used these entities to contribute as much as 24 times the individual contribution limit ($24,000) to a single legislative candidate in a single day. In one case, Howard Rich's business entities accounted for 85% of a SC State House candidate's total campaign funding.
Rich's National Network of Financiers
In 2008, Howard Rich bypassed state contribution limits and spent approximately half a million dollars on SC State House Races. In addition to this funding, Rich also tapped a national network of associates to help finance his private school voucher and tax credit agenda. Several of these funders are avowed opponents of public education.
Patrick Byrne: CEO of Overstock.com, Byrne spent millions in 2006 in an effort to pass vouchers in his home state of Utah, after “[v]oucher groups, primarily funded by the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune and the founder of Amway, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars helping to elect pro-voucher candidates to the Utah Legislature,” according to the Associated Press. Utah voters defeated vouchers 62% - 38%. Like Howard Rich, Byrne is a director of the pro-voucher Friedman Foundation.
John Kirtley: John Kirtley is a Tampa venture capitalist “whose $100,000 donation to the Republican Party in 2000 sparked the passage of the corporate tax credit voucher law the following spring” in Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Kevin Spillane: Kevin Spillane of Sacramento was the campaign consultant for California’s failed Proposition 90, for which Howard Rich-affiliated groups provided 87% of the funding in 2006, according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics.
Paul Farago: Farago is a licensed acupuncturist in Ashville, North Carolina, and a director of Howard Rich’s Americans for Limited Government. Mr. Farago is also a signatory of the pledge of the Alliance for Separation of School and State: "I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."
Michael Dokupil: Dokupil is a Houston, Texas investor and a director of Howard Rich's Americans for Limited Government.
Marshall Stocker: Stocker is a Hanover, Massachusetts investor and of former member of the Ithica (NY) Libertarians. According to the Buffalo News, Stocker was "a spokesman for New Yorkers to Change Albany," which received "$100,000 from a real estate firm run by Howard Rich, a New York landlord."
Robert Gelfond: Gelfond, of New York City, "has been a professional trader for over 25 years with a focus on global macro trading," according to the website RealClearMarkets. Gelfond is director of the "Foundation for Freedom and Justice," a contributor to Howard Rich's US Term Limits organization.
Guy Calvert: Calvert, of Palo Alto, California, is a co-director with Howard Rich of the “Center for Independent Thought,” located at Rich’s 73 Spring Street, NYC address. He is a signatory of the pledge of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State: “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”
Eric O'Keefe: O’Keefe, of Spring Green, Wisconsin, is a co-director with Howard Rich of the “Center for Independent Thought,” located at Rich’s 73 Spring Street, NYC address. He is a signatory of the pledge of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State: “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”
Robert Costello: Costello, of Evanston, IL, is a co-director of Howard Rich’s “Americans for Limited Government” and former director of Rich’s “Legislative Education Action Drive.” Costello is a signatory of the pledge of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State: “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”