By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—So great is the effort to promote former governor Bob Riley’s SGO, the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, that it has been invited to the orientation sessions for in-coming legislators.
The orientation session traditionally held at the University of Alabama School of Law has been moved to Montgomery for reasons unspecified. The session began on Tuesday and will continue through Thursday with briefings on the budget, ethics, and general information needed by new legislators.
The session is being led by the presumptive Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, who stands accused by the State of 23 Felony counts of public corruption.
This year, Riley’s Opportunity Scholarship Fund, and the education lobbying groups American Federation for Children and Alabama Federation for Children, will be holding court for the incoming Freshman class of lawmakers at the State House.
Riley’s SGO has even been provided room 418 from which to woo legislators.
In an email, Sonya DiCarlo, Director of Communications, Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, tells lawmakers she wants to, “provide a short presentation on how successful the scholarship portion of the Alabama Accountability Act was this year” and “provide stories from your specific districts on how the SGO is ‘changing lives.’”
Riley’s SGO has raised millions of dollars to grant so-called life-changing scholarships, mostly to children in non-failing schools. Of the millions Riley’s group has raised, it gets to keep five percent for operating expenses.
Also playing a roll this week of orientation is American Federation for Children and Alabama Federation for Children, who are also affiliated with Riley and John T. Kirtley, the who is referred to by some as the Godfather of Scholarship Granting Organizations in Florida.
An email from Ryan Cantrell, Alabama State Director for American Federation for Children and Alabama Federation for Children states, “…hope you will have a few minutes to stop by room 418, drink a cup of coffee and hear about the positive impact these scholarships are having on so many students in communities across the state.”
Cantrell formerly served as a political operative for Hubbard before becoming an advocate of school choice.
Having lobbyists and vendors at an legislative orientation would appear out of the norm however, given the fact that the proceedings are under the guidance of a man who will stand trial for felony ethics violations perhaps it is just business as usual.
From: Ryan Cantrell
Date: December 9, 2014 at 11:03:50 AM CST
Subject: FW: Invitation
I wanted to make sure you saw this invitation to talk with the staff from the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund during orientation this week. I hope you will have a few minutes to stop by room 418, drink a cup of coffee and hear about the positive impact these scholarships are having on so many students in communities across the state.
Alabama State Director
American Federation for Children | Alabama Federation for Children
www.federationforchildren.org | www.alabama4children.org
From: Sonya DiCarlo [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2014 5:29 PM
Greetings, from the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund. We are the largest Scholarship Granting Organization in Alabama helping families get scholarships through the Alabama Accountability Act.
We are reaching out to our Alabama Lawmakers in hopes that we can meet with you. We would love to provide a short presentation on how the scholarship portion of the Alabama Accountability Act was successful this year. We have statistics, and personal stories from families. In many cases, we can provide stories from your specific districts. We would love to answer any questions you have. The scholarships are changing lives and we would like to share what we’ve learned.
We will be in Montgomery December 9, 10th and 11th in Room 418 in the State House.
Tuesday, December 9th from 11:00 – 5:00
Wednesday, December 10th from 8:00 – 5:00
Thursday, December 11th from 8:00 – 5:00
Feel free to stop by.
Director of Communications
Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund