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The Political Class Is An Industry

The Political Class Is An Industry

with minor leagues and pre-election financial support networks

Elected officials start out on financial support, long before they’re elected. Here’s one example to show how it works.

In 2018, the ACLU of Southern California filed a class action lawsuit against Riverside County, alleging that a county program to intervene in the lives of at-risk youth was oppressive and unconstitutional. Run by the county probation department, the ACLU argued at the time, the Youth Action Team “treats children who have not been convicted of crimes like hardened criminals with surprise searches, unannounced home visitations, strict restrictions on who participants can speak to, curfews, and interrogations into intimate details of their lives.” The lawsuit was brought at the initiative of a nonprofit agency, Sigma Beta Xi, that provided youth services in Riverside County.

A year later, the county settled the lawsuit, agreeing to remove probation officers from schools and to eliminate behavioral restrictions on teenagers who hadn’t been convicted of crimes. The settlement also included this provision: “Provides $7 million for community-based organizations to provide services to youth.” A lawsuit brought at the request of a non-governmental youth services organization produced a legally enforceable government promise to fund non-governmental youth services organizations.

Sigma Beta Xi has floated for years on a tide of government and foundation funding, operating as a black box that discloses little financial information. Its primary purpose is declared in all-caps on its Form 990 filings with the IRS: “MENTORING APPROXIMATELY 400 STUDENTS ON 15 VARIOUS SCHOOL CAMPUSES LOCATED IN THE INLAND EMPIRE METROPOLITAN AREA OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.” It does that work on two to three million dollars a year in outside funding, without detailed financial disclosure. Charity Navigator rates it a “zero-star charity,” with poor governance and limited transparency.

You can see Sigma Beta Xi’s Form 990 for 2022 here, with $2,905,309 in revenue from undisclosed sources that are identified only by category, and with this disclosure of executive pay levels:

Here’s 2020:

And here’s 2021, apparently a lean pandemic year:

That first year above, 2022, was the last year Corey Jackson served as CEO of Sigma Beta Xi. After eleven years in that role, he resigned to take a seat in the California Assembly.

You can get a closer look at Sigma Beta Xi’s work here, on the organization’s website. Sample newsletter item, from November of 2020, pg. 2:

A nonprofit youth services organization funded by government, SBX trains and assigns young people to campaign for government funding that can be passed through to nonprofit youth services organizations. Weirdly, a Riverside County youth services organization is promoting the phone banking work of 19 year-old Giselle, who’s from the western Los Angeles County community of Compton, but close enough.

Here’s the last page of the March 2021 newsletter:

So the publicly funded Sigma Beta Xi helps at-risk youth by training them for political phone banking, by making sure they know how to use birth control when they become sexually active in high school, and by teaching them how to fight the patriarchy by resisting school dress codes.

More recently, as Corey Jackson was nearing the end of his service at Sigma Beta Xi, the organization received just short of $4 million in Covid relief money for youth housing — as a county “loan” with no required payments and scheduled forgiveness. You can see the zero-payments loan agreement here, with this description on pg. 5 of the PDF file:

“No payments will be made.” Signatures for the $3,914,613 planned-forgiveness / zero-payment loan are on pg. 54:

You can read Corey Jackson’s work experience here. Before he became the CEO of a government-funded nonprofit that got no-repayment $4 million “loans,” he worked in three different legislative offices in field representative and district representative roles. So before he became a legislator, he drew a series of government-sourced paychecks for political work. Like a minor league baseball player, he got paychecks from the organization he signed with long before he advanced to the AAA team. They come to politics from politics; they get political paychecks on their way to political paychecks, never passing through filthy private sector grubbing over products and services.

I don’t merely mean this as an observation about Corey Jackson. Wherever you are, pick a state legislator from your area and see where he or she comes from. Here’s the famous trans crusader Machaela Cavanaugh…

on her way to the Nebraska Senate:

We have a political class that grows up on political farm teams, never brushing against anything outside of politics, activism, and foundation-centered patron-client relationships. Then they make rules for the rest of us to live by, never having experienced the life of the job-having peasant classes.

And then, once they reach the place they’ve been climbing to for ten to twenty years, this happens:

The irony of people who thrive on labor-sourced money without ever having provided any labor. “Life’s rich pageant.”

Chris Bray is a Journalist, historian, former soldier, whiskey enthusiast. This article originally appeared on his Substack which can be found here

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