One of the biggest advocates of charter schools and vouchers former state
Representative Eric Fresen was sentenced to sixty days in jail and a year of probation. Where he had no problem sending tax payer’s money to for profit companies that run charters and private schools with barely any over site, he sadly had a problem with paying his own taxes. Welcome to Florida.
From the Miami Herald:
Even though he failed to file tax returns during his entire eight years in the Florida Legislature — a two-term tenure during which he headed a powerful budget committee and preached fiscal responsibility — former Miami state Rep. Erik Fresen still walked into the federal courthouse for his sentencing Friday expecting to get slapped only with probation.
He walked out with a jail sentence.
The Miami Republican will have to serve 60 days in jail — and a year of probation — after pleading guilty to the crime of failing to file a 2011 tax return on $270,136 in income.
He will begin his jail term on Nov. 17 and serve 15 days in jail per month for four months, an intermittent sentence intended to keep him earning some income to pay back his remaining tax penalties.
“I want him to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in jail so that every holiday for the rest of his life he’ll think back to that,” U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said.
During his time in the legislature despite close ties to charter schools Fresen routinely pushed the sending of more tax payer money to them.
Also from the Miami Herald:
A familiar face is back at the center of a perennial tug-of-war in the Florida Legislature between privately-managed charter schools and district-run public schools over taxpayer money for construction projects:
Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican who controls the purse for education funding in the Florida House. His connections to the charter school industry continue to raise questions about conflicts of interest.
He has fast-tracked a mid-session bill that would limit school district spending on capital needs. It would also force districts to share their construction tax money with charters.
Fresen is a $150,000-a-year land consultant for Civica, an architecture firm with a specialty in building charter schools. Many of those schools were built for Academica — which has been described as the largest charter school management company in Florida and which counts Fresen’s brother-in-law and sister as executives.
Fresen says he simply wants to hold districts accountable for the money they spend and ensure equitable funding for charter schools, which are classified as public schools.
“Nothing in this bill has anything to do with anything that I do for a living,” he said.
But Fresen, 39, is dogged by questions that his goal isn’t so well-intentioned. His ties to the charter school industry — well-documented during his eight years in the Legislature — have long rankled public school supporters and made him the subject of at least one ethics complaint since he was elected in 2008.
“Our Legislature should not be for sale. I think that seems to be what’s happening,” said Kayla Rynor, who helps lead the advocacy committee at Miami Beach Senior High’s PTSA. “The appearance of impropriety just doesn’t sit well and I’m not sure why it’s not a violation of state ethics laws.
I am not sure why writing legislation for charters while having close associations with them doesn’t violate state ethics laws either but if it did, about a dozen other republican legislators would have or be violating them as well.
Sadly in Florida our ethic laws are so porous you have to be caught with a live boy or a dead girl for anybody to take notice.
It’s beyond ironic and insults the senses that he wanted to send our tax payer money to charter schools while thinking at the same time he didn’t have to pay taxes.