Did Los Angeles Superintendent Improperly Back School Board Candidates?
Leader from Board Member Nick Melvoin’s Astroturf group, Speak Up, pretends to be Austin Beutner on Twitter and retweets campaign messages.
The Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is hired by the School Board and is expected to stay out of district politics. It was, therefore, very surprising that Tweets were circulating from the current Superintendent, Austin Beutner, where he had re-Tweeted messages of support for the campaigns of Marilyn Koziatek and Tanya Ortiz Franklin. The original messages were created by Speak Up, a group that was initially created to support the election of Board Member Nick Melvoin in 2017. Speak Up pretends to be a grassroots organization that represents district parents but is actually financed by the Walton Foundation to promote the spread of charter schools in Los Angeles and to fight any attempt to hold these publicly funded private schools accountable.
Beutner did not actually send these messages. Nor did he send a Tweet supporting Speak Up as “focused [SIC] kids and parents. And calling out the bullshit when I see it.” Instead, these Tweets were sent out by Kim Silverstein, whom Melvoin’s organization describes as a “Speak Up parent leader.” Violating Twitter policy and possibly the law, Silverstein registered an account in the name of the Superintendent. The profile picture used for this account was Beutner’s.
Sometime after the election, the name on the @KimSilv26 Twitter account was changed to “kim silverstein (but I wish I was austin beutner).” Another Twitter account, @kimborambo, also appears to be Kim Silverstein’s as it links to a blog that then links to the same photography company that is mentioned in the Twitter account formerly attributed to Beutner.