La Jolla financier and public affairs philanthropist R.B. “Buzz” Woolley has teamed up with Netflix founder Reed Hastings in a high-dollar independent campaign on behalf of South Gate city clerk and ex-teacher Carmen Avalos, who is seeking election to the 50th state assembly seat being vacated by termed-out Democrat Hector De La Torre. On May 14, according to state disclosure filings, Woolley gave $30,000 to a committee called “Putting Schools First, sponsored by the Alliance of California Charter Schools.” Last August 27, Hastings, of Los Gatos, contributed $83,500 to the same group. On May 21 of this year, the committee spent $11,628.34 in an independent expenditure on literature and mail for Avalos, who is also benefiting from sizable independent expenditures made by EdVoice, the lobbying and advocacy group cofounded by Hastings and Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, both of whom favor more charter schools, limits on public school teacher tenure, and other changes, including linking pay and teacher performance, opposed by the American Federation of Teachers and other public employee unions.
Woolley, the chief financial angel for the nonprofit online news site Voice of San Diego, where he is chairman and president of the board, according to IRS filings, has given $318,750 to EdVoice during the past six years, records show. Woolley, Hastings, and Broad are also backers of Democratic state senator Gloria Romero’s effort to become state superintendent of public instruction, another candidate opposed by teachers’ unions. Romero favors streamlined authorization and renewal of charter schools and sponsored so-called Race to the Top legislation favored by EdVoice and GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. On May 6, EdVoice reported contributing $1,412,248 to Romero’s cause.… County Democrats are getting big money from organized labor this year. Through May 22, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council has kicked in $70,000. San Diego Fire Fighters Union Local 145 gave $12,000. Service Employees International Union Local 221 contributed $18,000. Expenditures included $22,939 on behalf of San Diego city council candidate Howard Wayne and $12,175 to oppose county supervisor Ron Roberts.