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L.A. billionaire Eli Broad donates $1.5 million to pro-charter school group supporting Villaraigosa for governor

Billionaire Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, stand for a photo amid Jeff Koons sculptures at "The Broad" museum in downtown Los Angeles.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

Los Angeles billionaire and philanthropist Eli Broad donated $1.5 million on Thursday to a pro-charter school group supporting Antonio Villaraigosa’s candidacy for governor.

The contribution came one day after Netflix chief Reed Hastings donated $7 million to the same group, Families & Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor 2018, which is sponsored by the California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

Broad and Hastings are wealthy backers of the education-reform movement. Villaraigosa is the most prominent California Democrat to back the effort to reform traditional protections for teachers that are a key priority for teachers’ unions. His stance has made him a target of those unions and many other labor groups, in part because of his roots as a labor organizer.

It’s unclear what the independent expenditure group plans to do with the millions of dollars in donations, but it could boost Villaraigosa’s chances against Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who leads in the polls and fundraising. Newsom is backed by the powerful California Teachers Assn. and other education unions.

The charter school association has previously been successful in local elections, notably last year when its efforts led to the first Los Angeles Unified School District board majority of elected officials with major pro-charter financial support.

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