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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 12:17 p.m.

Gates, Walton pump $3.1 million into charter schools campaign

Bill Gates and Alice Walton, two of the nation's biggest boosters of charter schools, have pumped $3.1 million into a campaign to legalize the alternative mode of schooling in Washington.

Gates of Kirkland gave $2 million to the committee pushing Initiative 1240 last week. Coupled with earlier contributions, the Microsoft founder has now given $3 million to qualify and pass the ballot measure which would allow up to 40 publicly funded, privately run campuses.

Walton of Bentonville, Ark. wrote a $1.1 million check to the Yes on Initiative 1240 campaign on Oct. 5, according to state Public Disclosure Commission reports. The daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton previously contributed $600,000 to the campaign.

The money couldn't have come at a better time.

A new Survey USA poll commissioned by KING5 found the measure ahead 49 percent to 30 percent with the remaining undecided. However, when support for an initiative falls below 50 percent, it's a cause for concern. The infusion of cash should enable backers of charter schools to fund a statewide television ad campaign in the final month of the election.

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