Mansfield ISD Candidate’s Campaign Finances Have Locals Asking Questions

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Mansfield ISD campaign flyer

Mansfield ISD Candidate Corinne Fiagome Place 7 Has Raised An Unusually large Amount of Money

In 2020 many say nothing should “shock’ us, but for residents in Mansfield the amount of money raised by Corinne Fiagome, candidate for Mansfield ISD Place 7, is shocking to say the least. According to campaign financial documents Fiagome has raised $56,425 as of October 24, 2020. Whereas the incumbent Courtney Lackey Wilson has raised $2200, and their opponent Yolanda McPherson reported $0 political contributions received.

The group Leadership for Educational Equity donated $50,000, and Arthur Rock donated $5,000 on July 1 and $2500 on October 14. Mr. Rock is on the Board of LEE and is a principal with the venture capital firm Arthur Rock & Co. and is a co-founder of Intel Corp.

There’s also a $500 contribution from an Andrea Buman, who appears to be the wife of LEE’s Executive Director Mike Buman. The widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, also contributed $2500 to Fiagome’s campaign.

Jolene Marchant posted on this on the candidate’s Facebook page, “Accepting $50,000 from a Washington DC based group is truly concerning. In my 19 years in Mansfield, I have never seen anywhere near that kind of out-of-state (or even in-state) money being invested in a candidate for any local race. It is truly concerning. I have not seen you list your affiliation with the Leadership for Educational Equity on any of your questionnaires or your website. It is hard to believe that there are not expectations with that massive of a monetary investment. How did this donation come about, and what are ties/affiliations with LEE?”

Ms. Fiagome responded to the Facebook comment, “I am a proud member of the Leadership for Educational Equity network. Please take the time to learn more about https://educationalequity.org.”

More Questions From Mansfield Residents

Karen Price Self also posted on Facebook, “There is a discussion on another FB page about the $56,000 in campaign donations your have reviewed from out of state donations and almost no local donations. Also questions have been raised about why you chose a company in MA to do your $30,000 in printing vs spending that money with a local company. Perhaps you could be so kind as to shed some light on that for the citizens of Mansfield?”

Ms. Fiagome responded, “I hope you will go back and review the campaign finance reports again (all of them, not just the last one) to see the support I received from many members of the local community. I was blessed to recently receive a very generous, unexpected large contribution from Leadership for Educational Equity, a network of people who are committed to strengthening our nation’s schools. I also received a few significant donations from supporters of LEE members who know we have done our homework to learn how to best serve students, families, teachers and staff in our district. I am proud to be a member of the network which I have been for nearly 5 years.

I wasn’t expecting the donation but I sure do appreciate that they have helped me to get my name and policy priorities out there, so that people will know they have a choice for Place 7 on the school board. I’m near certain that I wouldn’t have popped up on your radar otherwise.

I use vendors that I know of and take recommendations… as this is my first-ever run for office. You have surely seen on the report you have studied that there are several local companies that I have worked with during this campaign… far more local than not local, so please relay the facts accurately. Thanks!”

Ms. Self then replied with more questions, ” You “popped up on my radar” as I always look to see where local candidates get their donations from. Yes, you have been blessed with some very large donations from some very, very, very rich people. Your first donation was $5,000 from Arthur Rock. I hadn’t heard of him before and became curious why a 94 year old rich man from San Francisco had any interest in a local school board election. $5,000 is likely pocket change to him, but for an MISD election is very significant. I took your suggestion and found you have 6 donations from Mansfield residents, one being your husband. Those total $505. Of the $56,425 you have resided, less than 1% is from Mansfield residents. Not passing judgment, but to think this isn’t unusual is simply not factual for Mansfield ISD Board elections.

Yes, there are local companies that have received your business too. Of the $39,917 your have spent, if I added these up correctly, about $1,165 was spent in the area. That is less than 3%. This leaves a balance of $28,099 that your final report will provide a status update on.

You asked me to relay the facts, and this is what your filings show, so I trust they are accurate.

I’m really curious why Steve Jobs widow is interested in Mansfield ISD with her donation. If these are the kinds of associates that you have, that might be a real blessing for Mansfield if she is willing to fund some of the MISD Foundation requests! Perhaps you can visit with her about that as I have no doubt the teachers would be thrilled to have more resources!!
Lastly, you said you were not “expecting the donation”. My question is how it came about. Was this something you applied for? There are so very many local ISD elections and I am truly curious why this organization took interest in MISD. Might there be access to grants that MISD could benefit from as a result of your connections there? Or are they just interested in electing people? I just don’t know much about them and appreciate you sharing how this donation came about. Thanks for your willingness to volunteer for the students in MISD. All volunteer work is tough and you can’t please everyone, that’s for sure. But I feel given the size of these donations, these are fair questions. Thanks!”

And Ms. Fiagome responded, “Transparency is essential and I appreciate the questions, especially when they come from a place of honesty and teamwork in pursuing what’s best for our community. Of course the larger donations and expenditures will be a larger percentage of the totals. And thank God my husband gave to my campaign rather than an opponent — they would have really been saying something. At the time he gave, I was still making calls to get donations so that I could get the communications out to let people know who I am.

To your questions about how I got the contribution that concerns you, my answer still is and can be nothing else except that I am part of the LEE network, and they chose to invest in my campaign. If you will look at the organization’s website, you will see that they invest in leadership development in behalf of children, families and communities. No, I did not ask for the contribution. No, I did not make any promises. No, I did not agree to push someone else’s agenda. Yes, I will work to bring more resources to MISD. Yes, as a board member if elected and as is part of board member expectations, I will continue to seek connections with philanthropic organizations, corporations, and individuals who will invest in supporting kids and education in our district. LEE is a tremendous resource that we can be glad is helping to bring attention and resources to our district, but it’s not the only one. I have worked in fundraising and development, as well as program management for child- and youth-serving organizations for 15+ years. I’m excited to put these skills to work for MISD. Karen, there is no hidden agenda. If there is a special interest, it is a special interest in making sure all children have access to an excellent education across our great country.”

Ms. Fiagome’s MISD Place 7 application lists occupation as “Nonprofit Social Sector & Consultant” but does not have a place for “employer.”

What is the Leadership for Educational Equity?

According to the LEE website: Leadership for Educational Equity is a nonprofit leadership development organization inspiring & supporting a network of civic leaders to end the injustice of educational inequity. LEE is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and works diligently to lift up the leadership of staff and members who represent communities most directly impacted by the injustice of educational inequity.

You can view Corinne Fiagome’s Campaign Financial reports here: CorinneFiagome-8thDayFinanceReport and CorinneFiagome-FinanceReport