Hijacking Campaign 2008

Independent Expenditures

Posted: November 9, 2009
Updated: July 1, 2010

Listed below are the PACs that filed oaths with the Government Accountability Board indicating they intended to make independent expenditures in the 2008 fall elections. Links to information on past independent spending since 2000 are provided when available. Where applicable, issue ad, conduit and PAC contribution activity is provided.

Advancing Wisconsin

Total Independent Spending: $242,993
Independent Spending Rank: 2

Advancing Wisconsin, Inc. is organized to advocate and lobby on progressive issues in the coming legislative session as well as conduct an extensive door-to-door literature drop and canvassing operation in the 2008 elections. Advancing Wisconsin employs a number of Democratic Party stategists in Wisconsin, including Mike Tate and former Democratic Party of Wisconsin executive director, Meagan Mahaffey. It was active in a number of legislative districts as well as the presidential election. The targeted efforts included the hotly contested 42nd, 43rd, 47th, 49th, 57th, 80th and 90th Assembly Districts.

Spending on:

Assembly District 21 $10,643   Assembly District 68 $13,036
Assembly District 29 $2,156   Assembly District 80 $1,991
Assembly District 30 $1,314   Assembly District 86 $2,459
Assembly District 35 $1,964   Assembly District 88 $22,158
Assembly District 37 $11,872   Assembly District 90 $19,909
Assembly District 42 $5,595   Assembly District 92 $1,610
Assembly District 43 $8,038   Assembly District 93 $9,605
Assembly District 47 $5,736   Assembly District 94 $2,527
Assembly District 49 $3,473   Assembly District 96 $2,058
Assembly District 50 $1,909   Senate District 8 $39,630
Assembly District 51 $3,300   Senate District 12 $2,204
Assembly District 55 $9,304   Senate District 18 $28,464
Assembly District 57 $16,676   Senate District 32 $15,361

Club for Growth Wisconsin

Total Independent Spending: $13,500
Independent Spending Rank: 11

This PAC is sponsored by the state arm of the national Club for Growth, an organization that raises and spends millions of dollars to support Republican candidates for federal office. Like other national Republican- and Democratic-leaning groups, Club for Growth uses negative ads and other outside electioneering activities to influence elections.

In 2007 Club for Growth Wisconsin kicked off its first electioneering activities ever in a state political race with a phony issue ad campaign in that year’s state Supreme Court contest followed by another such campaign in the 2008 Supreme Court race. It was also involved in issue ads in the fall 2008 general election.

The Club for Growth reported independent expenditures for the first time in 2008.

Spending on:

Assembly District 42 $13,500

Issue Ad Activity: 20082008 Supreme Court2007 Supreme Court

Fair Wisconsin

Total Independent Spending: $1,875
Independent Spending Rank: 18

This political action committee of Action Wisconsin in Madison and Center Advocates in Milwaukee first formed to do independent expenditures in the 2007 Supreme Court Elections in support of Linda Clifford. Fair Wisconsin was previously registered as a referendum group in 2006 to campaign against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions in Wisconsin. In the 2008 election it supported Democrats in nine hotly contested legislative races.

Spending on:

Assembly District 29 $192   Assembly District 88 $158
Assembly District 30 $306   Assembly District 93 $260
Assembly District 43 $280   Senate District 18 $114
Assembly District 49 $304   Senate District 32 $128
Assembly District 57 $134      

Past Independent Expenditures: 2007

Fond du Lac PAC

Total Independent Spending: $0
Independent Spending Rank: Not Applicable

This is the political action committee of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce which claims to represent more than 900 businesses. The PAC filed oaths in support of two Fond du Lac area Republican candidates, Representative John Townsend, the incumbent in Assembly District 52, and Randy Hopper, candidate in Senate District 18, the seat vacated by Senator Carol Roessler in spring 2008. Randy Hopper is also a member of the association’s board of directors.

No reported independent spending

Past Independent Spending: 2000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $500

Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC

Total Independent Spending: $83,497
Independent Spending Rank: 4

This is the political action committee of a Milwaukee-based group formed in mid-2004 that uses negative radio, television and newspaper advertising and mailings to support Democratic candidates and oppose Republican candidates. The group draws its cash from labor, lawyer, tribal and business interests.

The PAC reported spending over $16,000 in advertising related expenses supporting Nick Milroy’s bid for the Democratic nomination in Assembly District 73.

Spending on:

Assembly District 42 $1,311   Assembly District 73 $16,083
Assembly District 47 $48,707   Assembly District 80 $17,397

Past Independent Spending: 200820072006

Issue Ad Activity: 20082008 Supreme Court200720062004

Keep Our North Strong

Total Independent Spending: $65,255
Independent Spending Rank: 5

This is a new Madison-based group that reported expenditures against Republican candidate Tom Tiffany in the 12th Senate District. In 2004 Tiffany ran against incumbent Roger Breske who recently left the seat after eighteen years to take accept a gubernatorial appointment. In the 2008 race Tiffany faced Democrat Jim Holperin, a former state legislator and more recently Governor Doyle’s tourism secretary.

The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate (CERS) accused Keep Our North Strong of illegal coordination of electioneering activities with Holperin on the basis of a complaint filed with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) on October 21. The complaint claimed the group illegally made campaign disbursements on behalf of Holperin before filing an oath with the GAB. In fact the GAB only received the group’s oath on October 21, the same day the complaint was filed, while the group reported it spent more than $65,000 on television ads on October 13.

In June 2009, responding to the complaint filed by CERS, the GAB found insufficent evidence to support a claim of illegal collusion between the two committees, but the GAB did fine Keep Our North Strong $500 for failing to fine a timely oath.

Spending on:

Senate District 12 $65,255

Milwaukee Police Association PAC

Total Independent Spending: $525
Independent Spending Rank: 19

The Milwaukee Police Association is the union for the City of Milwaukee police officers. In 2006 the association’s PAC spent $1,683 on behalf of Milwaukee area candidates from both parties. It favored the Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2006 as it did in 2002. No expenditures were reported in 2000 or 2004. In the spring 2008 Supreme Court race the PAC made independent expenditures on a newspaper ad supporting then-incumbent Justice Louis Butler, who is from Milwaukee.

Spending on:

Assembly District 7 $44   Assembly District 19 $44
Assembly District 9 $44   Assembly District 20 $44
Assembly District 12 $44   Assembly District 21 $44
Assembly District 13 $44   Assembly District 82 $44
Assembly District 14 $44   Senate District 4 $44
Assembly District 15 $44   Senate District 8 $44

Past Independent Spending: 2008 Supreme Court20062002

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $3,300

MTI Voters (Madison Teachers Inc)

Total Independent Spending: $2,655
Independent Spending Rank: 17

MTI Voters is the political action committee of the Madison Teachers Inc., a union for Madison area public school teachers. The union endorses and campaigns for pro-public education candidates in the Madison area and financially supports them through its PAC. It supports candidates who have pledged to remove revenue controls and the "Qualified Economic Offer" law which they say usurps local control and erodes the quality of education.

The PAC prefers to make direct contributions to candidates having made very limited independent expenditures in recent years. 2004 was the last time it made any independent expenditures in a legislative campaign. More recently, MTI Voters made approximately $18,000 and $3,000 in independent expenditures in the 2003 and 2007 Supreme Court campaigns respectively and about $2,000 in the 2005 Superintendent of Public Instruction race. All the Supreme Court candidates backed by MTI Voters lost.

In 2008 it supported the Democratic challenger in Assembly District 80 and the Democratic contestant for the open seat in Assembly District 47.

Spending on:

Assembly District 47 $1,305
Assembly District 80 $1,350

Past Independent Spending: 2007200520042003

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $18,500

NRA Political Victory Fund

Total Independent Spending: $13,876
Independent Spending Rank: 9

The NRA Political Victory Fund is the political action committee of the Virginia-based National Rifle Association. The committee supports pro-gun candidates mainly through independent spending.

The NRA does not appear to have filed an oath or reports of independent spending during the 2008 election. In February 2009, the NRA reported spending $13,876 to print and mail brochures to support Republican candidates in 21 legislative races, including $1,865 on behalf of 12th Senate District candidate Tom Tiffany and $1,525 to support 18th Senate District candidate Randy Hopper.

Spending on:

Assembly District 7 $305   Assembly District 80 $459
Assembly District 26 $312   Assembly District 87 $385
Assembly District 36 $486   Assembly District 88 $354
Assembly District 43 $623   Assembly District 92 $629
Assembly District 47 $545   Assembly District 93 $452
Assembly District 49 $723   Assembly District 96 $583
Assembly District 54 $468   Senate District 8 $491
Assembly District 57 $378   Senate District 12 $1,865
Assembly District 65 $289   Senate District 18 $1,525
Assembly District 68 $843   Senate District 32 $1,383
Assembly District 74 $779      

Past Independent Spending: 2008 Supreme Court200420022000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $2,000

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin

Total Independent Spending: $25,104
Independent Spending Rank: 8

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin is a statewide political action committee formed in 2002 to make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates who support a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion.

Spending on:

Assembly District 8 $635   Assembly District 74 $182
Assembly District 16 $580   Assembly District 88 $1,604
Assembly District 17 $580   Assembly District 89 $1,046
Assembly District 20 $2,137   Assembly District 90 $1,604
Assembly District 22 $635   Assembly District 91 $1,791
Assembly District 24 $92   Assembly District 93 $1,138
Assembly District 28 $1,046   Assembly District 94 $1,513
Assembly District 47 $1,157   Assembly District 96 $1,010
Assembly District 49 $1,604   Senate District 8 $654
Assembly District 51 $1,138   Senate District 18 $92
Assembly District 57 $1,623   Senate District 30 $1,604
Assembly District 72 $127   Senate District 32 $1,513

Past Independent Spending:

2008 Supreme Court 20072006200420022000

Planned Parenthood Votes

Total Independent Spending: $4,760
Independent Spending Rank: 15

According to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin this is a new PAC, the fourth active PAC associated with Planned Parenthood. Apparently it takes the place of the Planned Parenthood Action fund which made independent expenditures in 2004 and 2006. In 2008 Planned Parenthood Votes supported Democrats in eleven races, nine in the Assembly and two in the Senate.

Spending on:

Assembly District 22 $476   Assembly District 68 $476
Assembly District 23 $214   Assembly District 91 $476
Assembly District 24 $476   Assembly District 93 $262
Assembly District 43 $476   Senate District 8 $476
Assembly District 47 $476   Senate District 18 $476
Assembly District 54 $476      

SEIU Wisconsin State Council

Total Independent Spending: $0
Independent Spending Rank: Not applicable

The political action committee of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a labor union which represents health care, homecare, nursing home, public service and building service workers in Wisconsin. This is the fourth consecutive fall election in which it has at least made known its intention to make independent expenditures. It did not, however, report making any.

No reported independent spending

Past Independent Spending: 200620042002

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $7,273

UAW Janesville-Madison PAC

Total Independent Spending: $4,544
Independent Spending Rank: 16

These are the first reported independent expenditures by this local branch of the United Auto Workers. In 2008 they ran radio ads supporting five Democratic candidates for the Assembly.

Spending on:

Assembly District 37 $909   Assembly District 49 $909
Assembly District 43 $909   Assembly District 80 $909
Assembly District 45 $909      

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $7,500

Volunteers for Agriculture

Total Independent Spending: $12,970
Independent Spending Rank: 12

This political action committee is used by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation to support candidates support the bureau’s position on agricultural issues. Volunteers for Agriculture has engaged in independent spending since 2000 through newspaper and radio ads and direct mail.

In 2006, the committee made independent expenditures for the gubernatorial, attorney general, and 8 legislative races totaling nearly $160,000.

Its last reported independent expenditure activity was in spring 2008 when it placed ads in several farm publications in support of Judge Gableman for state Supreme Court.

In the 2008 election the committee supported fourteen candidates in twelve Assembly and two Senate seats. All but one of the candidates were Republicans. The lone Democrat was Andy Jorgensen, the incumbent in Assembly District 37.

Spending on:

Assembly District 29 $401   Assembly District 51 $1,122
Assembly District 30 $398   Assembly District 80 $1,821
Assembly District 36 $348   Assembly District 87 $971
Assembly District 37 $1,251   Assembly District 94 $98
Assembly District 43 $2,981   Assembly District 96 $415
Assembly District 47 $997   Senate District 10 $798
Assembly District 50 $859   Senate District 32 $512

Past Independent Spending:
2008 Supreme Court2006200420022000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $3,500

WEAC PAC

Total Independent Spending: $2,099,984
Independent Spending Rank: 1

The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) represents public school teachers, educational support personnel, technical college employees, and student teachers in Wisconsin. WEAC is among the largest direct contributors candidates for statewide office and the legislature. It also spends substantial sums on independent expenditures and issue ads.

WEAC spent about $2 million on independent expenditures in the 2006 election-- most of that in opposition to the Republican candidate for governor -- and nearly $350,000 in the 2008 Supreme Court election.

In the 2008 fall election, WEAC indicated it would make independent expenditures in 61 assembly districts and 8 senate districts but only reported spending in five Assembly districts.

Spending on:

Assembly District 2 $276,488   Assembly District 68 $406,322
Assembly District 43 $539,660   Assembly District 96 $364,382
Assembly District 47 $513,132      

Past Independent Spending:
2008 Supreme Court2006200420022000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $39,531

Minimum conduit contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $98,107

Winnebagoland Uniserv PAC

Total Independent Spending: $5,800
Independent Spending Rank: 14

UniServ (regional association) of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) that represents public school teachers, educational support personnel, technical college employees, and student teachers in the Fond du Lac/Southern Lake Winnebago area. In 2004 the PAC made expenditures in three area Assembly districts.

In 2008 this PAC did radio ads supporting two Democratic candidates in the Fond du Lac area.

Spending on:

Assembly District 54 $2,900
Senate District 18 $2,900

Past Independent Spending: 20042000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $3,000

Wisconsin Credit Union League Action Fund (WCULAF)

Total Independent Spending: $0
Independent Spending Rank: Not Applicable.

Wisconsin Credit Union League Action Fund (WCULAF) is the political action committee for the 264 member Wisconsin credit union trade assocation. While the Credit Union League has a long history of supporting state candidates through both its PAC and its conduit, this is the first time WDC has seen independent expenditures from WCULAF in state legislative elections.

WCULAF indicated it would support three Democratic and three Republican incumbents -- Senators Wirch (D), Hansen (D), and Kapanke (R) and Representatives Hixson (D), Davis (R) and Nerison (R) -- but reported no spending.

No Reported Spending

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $19,250

Minimum conduit contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $11,402

Wisconsin Hospitals PAC

Total Independent Spending: $13,608
Independent Spending Rank: 10

Wisconsin Hospitals PAC (formerly Healthy Wisconsin PAC) is the political action committee of the Wisconsin Health and Hospital Association. It not only makes independent expenditures but also makes direct contributions to candidates. The Wisconsin Health and Hospital Association also has a conduit through which its individual members can make candidate contributions; it made more than $171,000 in such contributions to candidates during the 2005-2006 election cycle. In 2006 they spent $11,728 on independent expenditures in 15 legislative races.

In 2008 the Hospitals Assocation PAC supported five Republican and six Democratic legislative candidates. All the candidates it supported were incumbents with one important and confusing exception. In the 49th Assembly District the PAC reported independent expenditures supporting both Democratic incumbent Phil Garthwaite and Republican challenger Travis Tranel.

Spending on:

Assembly District 37 $1,237   Assembly District 80 $1,237
Assembly District 43 $1,237   Assembly District 88 $1,237
Assembly District 49 $2,474   Assembly District 93 $1,237
Assembly District 60 $1,237   Senate District 12 $1,237
Assembly District 68 $1,237   Senate District 30 $1,237

Past Independent Spending: 200620042002

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $8,750

Minimum conduit contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $108,758

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Total Independent Spending: $106,254
Independent Spending Rank: 3

This is the political action committee of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, a pro-environment organization group that seeks to influence the state’s legislative agenda by producing environmental "scorecards" for legislators and electing candidates favorable to the group’s goals.

Spending on:

Assembly District 28 $4,723   Assembly District 57 $12,436
Assembly District 34 $17,433   Assembly District 73 $9,588
Assembly District 36 $12,209   Assembly District 93 $4,703
Assembly District 42 $17,159   Senate District 12 $15,677
Assembly District 53 $12,068   Senate District 18 $258

Past Independent Spending: 200620042002

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $4,100

Wisconsin Professional Police Association

Total Independent Spending: $57,875
Independent Spending Rank: 7

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association claims to be the state’s largest law enforcement lobbying group representing 11,000 active and retired officers from more than 375 police departments.

The group planned to purchase billboard ads supporting four legislative candidates, three Democrats and one Republican, the PAC characterized as willing to"fight to keep the state’s fiscal crisis from compromising the quality of public safety services available in our communities."

Spending on:

Assembly District 1 $8,018   Assembly District 47 $10,785
Assembly District 28 $3,967   Assembly District 91 $11,490
Assembly District 35 $5,145   Senate District 12 $18,470

Past Independent Spending: 200620042002

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $3,000

Wisconsin Right to Life

Total Independent Spending: $8,411
Independent Spending Rank: 13

This is statewide, anti-abortion advocacy group has engaged in outside electioneering activities since the 2000 elections, making a total of $100,029 in independent expenditures in races for legislative and statewide offices. It also sponsored phony issue ads in the 2004 and 2006 elections, spending an estimated $30,000 on a 60-second radio in the 2006 governor’s race.

Spending on:

Assembly District 1 $5   Assembly District 58 $5
Assembly District 2 $5   Assembly District 59 $5
Assembly District 3 $5   Assembly District 60 $5
Assembly District 4 $5   Assembly District 63 $5
Assembly District 5 $5   Assembly District 65 $5
Assembly District 6 $5   Assembly District 66 $5
Assembly District 7 $5   Assembly District 67 $5
Assembly District 14 $5   Assembly District 68 $489
Assembly District 15 $5   Assembly District 69 $5
Assembly District 21 $5   Assembly District 72 $5
Assembly District 22 $5   Assembly District 80 $5
Assembly District 23 $5   Assembly District 82 $5
Assembly District 24 $5   Assembly District 83 $5
Assembly District 25 $5   Assembly District 84 $5
Assembly District 27 $5   Assembly District 85 $5
Assembly District 28 $5   Assembly District 86 $5
Assembly District 29 $247   Assembly District 87 $489
Assembly District 30 $5   Assembly District 88 $489
Assembly District 31 $5   Assembly District 89 $5
Assembly District 32 $5   Assembly District 90 $489
Assembly District 33 $5   Assembly District 91 $5
Assembly District 34 $5   Assembly District 92 $489
Assembly District 35 $5   Assembly District 93 $489
Assembly District 36 $489   Assembly District 94 $5
Assembly District 37 $5   Assembly District 96 $489
Assembly District 38 $5   Assembly District 97 $5
Assembly District 39 $5   Assembly District 98 $5
Assembly District 40 $5   Assembly District 99 $5
Assembly District 41 $5   Senate District 8 $744
Assembly District 42 $247   Senate District 10 $5
Assembly District 43 $489   Senate District 12 $489
Assembly District 47 $489   Senate District 14 $5
Assembly District 49 $489   Senate District 18 $5
Assembly District 50 $5   Senate District 20 $5
Assembly District 51 $5   Senate District 22 $5
Assembly District 52 $5   Senate District 24 $5
Assembly District 53 $5   Senate District 28 $5
Assembly District 55 $5   Senate District 30 $5
Assembly District 56 $5   Senate District 32 $489
Assembly District 57 $489      

Past Independent Spending: 2006200320022000

Issue Ad Activity: 20062004 2000

Direct PAC contributions to 2008 candidates 2007-2008: $425

Wisconsin Sierra Club Education Committee

Total Independent Spending: $0
Independent Spending Rank: Not Applicable

The Sierra Club, a pro-environment membership organization with a major focus on lobbying, has been making independent expenditures since the 1996 election cycle and helped pioneer the use of "issue ads."

In 2006 the PAC supported long-time member and environmental advocate Penny Bernard Schaber in her bid for the 57th Assembly District seat and reported its intent to do so again in 2008. It also indicated an interest in three Senate and 12 other Assembly races, but did not, in the end, report any spending.

No reported independent spending

Past Independent Spending: 200620022000

Working Families PAC

Total Independent Spending: $64,753
Independent Spending Rank: 6

This PAC first appeared in 2006 when it supported then-incumbent Republican Senators Tom Reynolds and Robert Brown of the 5th and 31st districts respectively. There is a labor-based Working Families Party with chapters in New York State, Connecticut and Oregon, but its emphasis on working-class, middle-class, and poor people issues suggests there is no connection to the similarly named Wisconsin PAC.

In the current election the group opposed the Democratic challengers to John Murtha and Dan Kapanke, the Republican incumbents in Assembly District 29 and Senate District 32 respectively.

Spending on:

Assembly District 29 $39,633
Senate District 32 $25,120

Past Independent Spending: 2006