More on the $8 million GEICO tax credit donation


by David Safier

This morning I posted about the $8 million tax credit donation GEICO made to Arizona Leadership Foundation a Student Tuition Organization (STO) that gives out vouchers for private school tuition. I also noted that GEICO will get the entire $8 million taken off its tax bill, leaving the taxpayers stuck with $8 million tab for the vouchers. And that lucky STO stands to reap 10% of the money for overhead — $800,000. I suggested there might be a link between GEICO and someone in the STO, but I haven't found any connection. However, I found some other very interesting stuff when I went over Arizona Leadership Foundation's 990 tax form for 2011, the first year it showed any revenue.

The Executive Director, Richard Kirsch, made $22,527 in 2011, certainly not a large salary. But I noticed that the STO spent $57,160 on Professional fundraising services. $48,760 went to Muth Strategy Group, LLC, which is owned by Aaron Muth who, according to some articles about the GEICO donation, is the president of Arizona Leadership Foundation. He's also the son-in-law of Executive Director Richard Kirsch. Muth Strategy Group was started somewhere between 2010 and 2011, about the time the Arizona Leadership Foundation came into existence. It looks like the STO is a two man show, with Executive Director father-in-law pulling in a minimal salary and President son-in-law making $48,760 for that nebulous service, fundraising.

This kind of nepotism is standard operating procedure in the education privatization world. Charter schools are often family businesses, with the parents running the show and the kids teaching, doing the books, and so on. Arizona Leadership Foundation looks like a classic example. The question is, why would GEICO choose such a shaky STO for its $8 million, 100%-refunded-by-the-state donation? I have a feeling there's an answer in there somewhere. I just don't know what it is.


  1. Most special needs children attend public schools. That is because public schools must provide the resources and professional expertise needed to create a successful learning environment for every child who walks through the door. That costly proposition includes educating children with special academic, behavioral or physical needs, children who are economically disadvantaged and children who speak a second language.

    Voucher/Geico funded private, religious, and many charter schools are intentionally unequipped to educate the aforementioned children. This is segregation by ability, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, plain and simple. These schools refuse to serve all of the children of our state, yet they receive our tax dollars. This is a crime, in my opinion.

    I feel sorry for the children attending segregated schools. They are missing out on so many wonderfully rich learning opportunities. Their classroom doesn’t come close to being a reflection of our country or the world.

    My class of 29 first graders includes one child who is hearing impaired, one who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, some who have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for academic, speech and language, behavior, and physical challenges. Some of my students need extra support with meeting the standards in reading and math. Some of my students need a more challenging curriculum. My school has a special needs preschool, so many students are identified and begin receiving services before kindergarten. In addition to English, my students and their families speak three languages.

    Since you are concerned about the quality of education special needs children are receiving, why don’t you volunteer at your local public school? They can use your help.

  2. Over 90% of these vouchers go towards private religious schools, whereas our inner city school children could vitally use this.

  3. Pretty good fundraiser for special needs children. Why not look into the quality of their education – maybe that would explain everything.

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