The American Commitment Action Fund (AC Action Fund) has launched a new ad attacking Newark, New Jersey Mayor Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)’s failure to properly utilize a $100 million gift to Newark schools by Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg that was announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show three years ago. Booker is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in a special election to succeed Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), who died in June.
Phil Kerpen, founder of AC Action Fund, said “Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was given all the resources a mayor could possibly dream of for education, with millions in private funding on top of already staggering per pupil spending of $23,000. But he still failed Newark and its students.”
“I would like to know why the $100 million wasn’t spent in classrooms when 38 percent of Newark students fail to graduate from high school and 90 percent of graduates need remedial English,” said Kerpen. “Oprah’s star power and fundraising prowess can’t paper over the truth that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has squandered a $100 million gift and failed Newark.”
The ad asks what Booker did with the money he received as a private gift from Zuckerberg. “The documents revealed a top Booker staffer admitting the money is not going to classrooms,” says the ad. “But millions did go to consultants, pollsters, and focus groups.”
The ad charges that, “only after the ACLU filed a lawsuit, Booker finally released documents, on Christmas Eve when he thought no one would notice.”
Winfrey is hosting a fundraiser on Thursday evening for Booker. According to the Wall Street Journal, the evening event is being held at the Liberty House restaurant in Jersey City. One hundred people are expected to attend. General admission is $1,000, and “VIP” admission, which includes a photograph, is $2,600 each.
Local hosts of the event include Michael Kempner, a major fundraiser for Barack Obama, and Joseph DeCotiis, a New Jersey attorney and former member of the Democratic National Committee.
Winfrey has been an outspoken supporter of Booker’s for several years. In 2011, she wrote, “Cory Booker is a genius.”
When Booker was chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, Winfrey wrote, “He’s Newark’s biggest cheerleader now, but I’m looking forward to the day we all get to cheer him on wherever politically he chooses to go.”
Booker faces state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Reps. Rush Holt and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in the primary.
According to his campaign’s report, Booker has raised $6.5 million for his U.S. Senate bid since January, and $4.6 million within the last three months. He has received more than 7,000 contributions, 70 percent of which have come from outside New Jersey.