John Klar: Who’s behind the push for universal free lunches in Vermont?

Wikimedia Commons/TechCrunch

Bradley Tusk, founder of Tusk Ventures, is an American businessman and philanthropist who is helping fund the push for universal school lunches in Vermont.

The hasty initiative to increase Vermonters’ taxes to subsidize school lunches for students whose families do not qualify for free lunches under federal eligibility guidelines has been spearheaded by a handful of politically active nonprofits.

Hunger Free Vermont has led the charge, supported by Solving Hunger, a national organization created by multi-millionaire Bradley Tusk. Tusk’s interest in Vermont is curious.

Tusk received approximately $100 million in equity in Uber for his political role in helping the company combat New York City regulations that would have limited the number of Uber drivers. He has also helped online gambling clients, and is called “Silicon Valley’s Political Savior.”

Tusk’s political activism is overtly liberal. Indeed, Solving Hunger’s grantees include non-food-related efforts such as the social justice Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

Tusk was Michael Bloomberg’s campaign manager in 2009, and served as communications director for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Bloomberg has used his Bloomberg Philanthropies organization to influence politics for his personal advancement, including to solicit endorsements. Schumer is the other way around — the “vast majority” of his alleged $8 million fortune “is derived from his political career.”

Tusk has been very vocal about his motives in supporting universal lunches. Solving Hunger proclaims on its website that “kids and other vulnerable groups don’t have lobbyists,” even as it lobbies on their behalf without any position on whether expanding the provision of meals to wealthy recipients in Vermont is a counter-productive, regressive tax-and-spend policy. 

The organization also claims: “Solving Hunger spent $3 million to help feed 12 million Americans and unlocked $1.5 billion for hunger programs.” However, if the group helps feed Americans who don’t need government help, it is pushing inequitable, regressive policies. The entity is boasting that it spent $3 million to influence governments to spend $1.5 billion of other people’s “unlocked” money.

Tusk and Solving Hunger have turned their eyes to the Green Mountain State, supporting Hunger Vermont’s effort to “unlock” $27 million or more annually from Vermont taxpayers, presumably through property tax increases that will burden low income Vermonters. Almost all of this increase will be applied not to feed needy or hungry children, but to expand existing federal programs in order to feed those Vermont children whose families earn more than the limits required to qualify for free meals.

This is upside-down. Exploiting hungry children to disperse public funds for rich kids is not advocacy for “vulnerable groups.” The pitch is a political one; the Solving Hunger website states the organization “hires the professionals to develop the strategy” and “finds the media campaign to push the message.” The organization also conducts opinion polls and “leverages its relationships in state houses” to guide the campaigns.

Tusk claims he views food as a “right,” without explaining who will pay for it. He claims the problem of hunger is one of wealth disparity — but programs like the one in Vermont will take money from middle- and low-income property owners to foot the bill.

In addition, Tusk’s organization sees a nation with 40 million hungry people — and over 34,000 of its citizens who are worth over $100 million. Tusk is one of those 34,000. His stake in Uber was valued at $100 million back in 2016. Tusk wrote a tell-all book about his relationship with Rod Blagojevich, whom Tusk later testified against in court for corruption.

Setting his sights on making fixed-income Vermont retirees pay for school lunches (including through summertime), Tusk brings a platform of partisan dubiousness. But he also mimics Bloomberg’s flashy money-splashing used to gain personal political appeal. Fast Company reports:

Another possible reason for Tusk to raise his public profile, one that several of his peers in the political world offered, is that he’s setting himself up to run for office. A source with political expertise says if that were his plan, he would want to build a public persona around his values in advance of any personal campaign. That way he avoids being seen as a rich dilettante. As the New York-based political consultant put it, “If you were running for office, this makes total sense in that context.”

Perhaps it is cynical to question Tusk’s effort on behalf of hungry children to coerce poor old people to foot the lunch tab for rich kids. Yet Tusk continues to focus also on making it easier to vote, leading first a campaign to help people vote by phone, and more recently an initiative to vote over the internet. His political activism is tightly bound to his supposed wealthy-benefactor altruism.

Vermont taxpayers are witnessing the extraction of their wealth by a tiny cadre of social justice progressives funded by an out-of-state opportunist. As Thomas Sowell has written: “[T]he time is long overdue to recognize … that taxpayers through no fault of their own have been forced to subsidize the moral adventures which exalt self-anointed social philosophers.”

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/TechCrunch

7 thoughts on “John Klar: Who’s behind the push for universal free lunches in Vermont?

  1. Vermont is a grifter’s paradise. The main problem with these organizations is they are partisan and no legimate auditing of their books – simple questions are never answered. How is the money spent? Where is the money spent? Receipts please. A recent arrest in Cook County, Illinois. The director of food services embezzled $1.5 million between July 2020 and February 2022. In Vermont, I note these organizations are top heavy in the administration and coordination departments with generous salaries for doing what? The board members sit on many boards of other non-profits and are mostly employed in government positions or connected directly to the legislature or local councils who grease the wheels so to speak. A good deal of Vermont non-profits and NGO’s are lucrative, partisan, activist thieves.

  2. It’s growing the Nanny State.

    It’s teaching the next generation of kids that they need to be dependent upon the state to feed them in school as if they are livestock on a farm.

    If you control the food like this, you have control of the people you’ve trained to be dependent..
    Henry Kissinger has a whole lot to say about all this. He’s openly said that when you control the food, you control the population. Why do you think that Bill Gates is buying all this farmland?

    What will these people do when the state decides that if you are not vaccinated, if you didn’t vote as assigned, you didn’t buy the car they told you to– then they stop feeding you.. then what?

    The overall picture here is to brainwash these kids to create the next generation that they have even more control over..
    THAT is what is going on.

    • Cradle to Grave that’s the socialist motto, full control of your life. China is their model so I guess it should be communism instead of socialism.

  3. They are doing this in VT because it is a small state and they have to spend less here to get it passed. Once they get it passed here then they use us as an example of how little VT did this and surely other states are forced to follow. There is no such thing as a free lunch!!!!

    • yup we’ve become the leftist testing ground for all that’s leading to socialism.. burnie start the ball rolling and now the whole of the counties leftist pukes have jumped on board.

    • Bingo. That’s right R Metivier, “They are doing this in VT because it is a small state…” , we are easily exploited by ‘out-of state opportunists’ as John says. I’ve been complaining about that dynamic for years. But of course, it has been going on for centuries. It has gradually turned this red state into a blue state. Deeply troubling and very sad. As much as each party would like to blame the other, the political state of Vermont can’t be blamed solely on one party.

      Exploitation and undue influence by the rich is a political platform that, unlike the abortion issue by evangelical voters, could win over liberals. Maybe throw in how we are being victimized by the rich. After all how many wealthy Repub opportunists have claimed VT residency to run for office, only to leave with their tail between their legs.

      Just for the record, I do not believe that “poor old people are footing the lunch tab for rich kids.” I am 100% behind feeding poor children.

      Mr Klar’s efforts on behalf of VTers is admirable but, often seem exaggerated.

Comments are closed.