Hijacking Campaign 2010

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Posted: October 11, 2010
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $2 million

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is the state's largest business group boasting more than 4,000 members.  It's one of the most powerful lobbying groups to work the State Capitol and one of the first special interests to sponsor phony issue ads when they hit Wisconsin's political landscape in 1996.

The group refuses to disclose how much it raises from individuals and corporations and spends on its outside electioneering activities. The Democracy Campaign estimates the group has spent about $9 million on phony issue in the 2006 and 2008 general elections and two races for Supreme Court in spring 2007 and spring 2008.  The group generally supports Republicans candidates for statewide offices and the legislature.

About two weeks before the 2010 elections, WMC Vice President James Buchen said the group would spend about $1 million to back Republican legislative candidates and that it had spent about $950,000 to support Republican candidate for governor Scott Walker, even though it had not directly sponsored any ads or other electioneering activities to back Walker.

In mid-October, WMC sponsored a television and radio ad blitz that mostly criticized incumbent legislative Democrats for supporting taxing and spending provisions in the 2009-11 state budget or other legislation that raise business taxes and purportedly cut jobs.  Except for the names, the content of the radio and television ads were very similar. 

To view or hear the ads, click on the name of the legislative candidate or the links:  Democratic Senators John Lehman of Racine; Patrick Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls, here, here and here; Robert Jauch of Poplar, here and here; Kathleen Vinehout of  Alma; and Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa.  Democratic Representatives Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire, here and here; Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville, here and here; Jim Soletski of Green Bay, here and here; Ted Zigmunt of Francis Creek, here and here; and Ann Hraychuck of Balsam Lake, here and here.

The group also sponsored a 30-second TV ad against Democratic legislative candidate C.W. King for supporting a tax increase as a member of the Chippewa Falls City Council.  The ad was similar to mailings against King by the American Federation of Children.

WMC also ran ads supporting Republican legislative candidates Amy Loudenbeck of Clinton, Howard Marklein of Wilson Creek, Ed Thompson of Tomah and Shirl LaBarre of Hayward.

Last active election: 2008