Hijacking Campaign 2012
American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc.
Posted: August 9, 2012
Updated: January 14, 2014
This is the second corporation created by the American Federation for Children, a Washington D.C.-based school choice group, to make independent expenditures in Wisconsin elections. Its counterpart spent nearly $125,000 on independent expenditures in the 2010 general elections and the 2011 Senate recall elections to back legislative candidates who support Milwaukee's school voucher program and its expansion.
Aside from independent expenditures, American Federation for Children - a spin-off of the Michigan-based All Children Matter - spent from 2010 to 2011 an estimated $3.6 million on phony issue ads to back mostly Republican candidates and some Milwaukee-area Democrats in regular and recall elections. The federation's leader is Betsy de Vos, wife of Dick de Vos, Michigan billionaire and son of Amway Corporation co-founder Richard de Vos. Scott Jensen, former state Republican Assembly leader and one of the leading figures in the Wisconsin caucus scandal, is the group's senior policy advisor.
The group filed an oath of disbursements with the Government Accountability Board covering a fair number of legislative districts. The group’s oaths in support of numerous Democratic candidates in the primary elections was unusual because it generally backs GOP candidates, but this support came in districts generally considered "safe" Democratic seats, where the winner of the Democratic primary almost wins automatically in November.
Just two to three weeks before the general elections the group reported, more true to form, their intentions to do independent expenditures against Democratic candidates in eight Assembly races and in the contentious 18th and 30th Senate Districts. The 18th Senate District is a Republican-leaning represented in 2012 by a Democratic incumbent elected in recall election held in August 2011.
Althought it had indicated potential involvement in numerous races, the American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc. did not report any independent spending but its counterpart, American Federation for Children Action Fund IE Committee, did.
Shortly after the 2012 general elections, however, this corporation's sponsoring organization, American Federation for Children, issued a report saying it spent nearly $2.4 million to elect pro-voucher candidates in the 2012 recall races and the fall general elections. If that claim is true, American Federation for Children failed to meet its legal obligation to report more than $2 million in independent expenditures in 2012.
This organization is registered with the Government Accountability Board following the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC as a corporation making independent disbursements.