Here’s What Special Interests Are Up to in 10th Senate Special Election

January 8, 2018

Shining a Light on Dark Money

At least three special interest groups are sponsoring ads and mailings against the Democratic and Republican candidates in an upcoming special election for the vacant 10th Senate District seat.

Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, and Democrat Patty Schachtner, of Somerset, will face off in the January 16 special election. The winner replaces longtime GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls, who resigned to become Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary.

So far, a Democratic group, the Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund, is planning to spend $30,000 on online advertising to support Schachtner. Meanwhile, two Republican groups – the Republican State Leadership Committee and Americans for Prosperity – are supporting Jarchow and opposing Schachtner with radio and digital ads and a mailing.

The Republican groups are phony issue ad outfits that refuse to disclose their fundraising and spending activities. Since January 2010, these three special interest groups have been among the leaders in spending on outside electioneering activities in Wisconsin legislative and statewide races.

Americans for Prosperity was created in 2003 by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, to support Republican and conservative candidates for federal, state and local offices around the country. Since January 2010, the group has spent an estimated $5.7 million on Wisconsin legislative and statewide elections.

The Republican State Leadership Committee is a Virginia-based group that supports Republican candidates for state and legislative offices in Wisconsin and around the country. Since January 2010, the group has spent more than $2.7 million on Wisconsin elections.

The Greater Wisconsin Fund is one of four electioneering arms controlled by the Greater Wisconsin Committee. The committee was created to support Democratic and liberal candidates for legislative and statewide offices. The committee’s arms, which includes a phony issue ad outfit, have spent more than $30 million combined on Wisconsin elections since January 2010.