Saturday, February 26, 2005

Conflicts of interest

A quick examination of campaign finance records reveals a disturbing pattern. At least 3 of the 6 Board of Education members accused of meeting illegally with the Attorney General were substantial contributors to his campaign.

Do those contributions create a financial interest on Mr. Kline's part in the success of these Board members above and beyond his Constitutional obligations to the public at large?

Setting that aside, we need to address John Calvert.

Calvert is a retired trial lawyer who wanted his soul back. He found Jesus and went into the creationist agenda with both feet. He now runs the Intelligent Design Network, and in that capacity, wrote the minority report being considered by the science standards committee. In my notes on the subcommittee hearings, I asked when this report became the default position for the Board. The discussion was entirely focussed on the minority report, not Draft 1, or the soon to be issued Draft 2, approved by the majority of the committee established by the Board to write the standards.

How did the minority come to be the de facto standard?

Campaign finance records raise troubling questions. John Calvert contributed to 4 of the 6 creationist members of the Board, including the three on the subcommittee now holding hearings on proposals issued by his Intelligent Design Network. That subcommittee is now allowing him to sit along side them – as a de facto member of the subcommittee which is reviewing the proposals his group wrote.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Jack Krebs asked what role Mr. Calvert was playing, and why he was sitting at the table with the subcommittee, rather than in the audience. Calvert never really replied, but did participate in discussion as if he were a subcommittee member, rather than a member of the public.

These data raise some obvious questions. What effect, if any, do his political contributions have on the committee's openness to his proposal (over the report generated by the majority of the Board's own science standards committee)? Is the Board tolerating his commandeering of their process because of his political contributions? What did his $1700 buy him?