Ohio’s largest for-profit charter school, ECOT, is embroiled in a contentious lawsuit with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the rhetoric has been ramping up all summer long, with ECOT now running regular commercials claiming that ODE is trying to shut down the school. We recently shared that the media company employed by ECOT (via the school’s management company). Third Wave Communications, is run by Jessica Lager Harris, the daughter of Altair and IQ Innovations owner, and ECOT founder, Bill Lager.
For the past decade plus, Bill Lager has been a major donor to campaigns of many of Ohio’s public officials, including key individuals who are in positions to enact stronger accountability rules for charters, including ECOT, but have continued to instead put off such changes, instead taking positions that favor the e-school.
It turns out that the money is flowing both ways…
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger was the keynote speaker at the ECOT Graduation ceremony this school year, following a long list of Republican officials who graced that stage:
John Kasich spoke at the 2011 ECOT graduation. Republican Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell spoke in 2013. In 2014, House Speaker Bill Batchelder spoke at the ECOT graduation ceremony and a year later, after retiring from the Ohio House, joined the lobbying firm representing ECOT. Last year  Ohio Auditor David Yost spoke at the graduation.
Conveniently, the Ohio House Republican Caucus (OHROC) has turned around and hired Third Wave Communications to produce a variety of commercials for them, starting with a personal introduction for Rosenberger:
When the Ohio House Republican Caucus wanted to produce a commercial promoting this year’s Ohio sales tax holiday, they chose Lager’s company again:
Third Wave Communications even produce a couple of cool videos of the ECOT headquarters using a new drone equipped with a camera. Nice digs, ECOT.
Need a video promoting the Ohio State Fair featuring House Speaker Rosenberger and paid for by the Republican Caucus? Look no further than Lager’s company to produce that on, too:
Lager’s Third Wave Communications even lists the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee as one of its political clients:
State Auditor David Yost even makes a cameo in Third Wave Communications’s 2015 highlight reel (at 0:06 and again at 1:23). You’ll also see a short glimpse of Third Wave’s video of ECOT’s graduation at 1:05.
If other clips from that highlight reel look familiar, you might have already watched the embedded video currently playing on the ECOT homepage.
And that was all in addition to the other work the younger Lager (Jessica Harris) continued to do for ECOT via the elder Lager’s management company, Altair:
To wrap up, the taxpayer-funded ECOT pays Bill Lager’s Altair Management Company to run the school. Lager hires his daughter’s company, Third Wave Communications, to produce media for Altair, and for ECOT, a practice that is prohibited in every other publicly-funded office in the state.
On a related front, Bill Lager contributes significant amounts of money to campaigns for Republican officials, including these key amounts from just within the past five years:
That’s $24,311.04 in donations to Rosenberger and $85,798.51 to the OHROC, both of whom subsequently turned around and hired the Lager family’s media company, Third Wave Communications.