Hijacking Recall 2012 - Information on Right Direction Wisconsin PAC

Hijacking Recall 2012

Right Direction Wisconsin PAC

Posted: January 30, 2012
Updated: January 15, 2014


This is the local political action committee of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) which spends millions of dollars nationwide on outside electioneering activities in support of Republican candidates for governor. This PAC was originally called the RGA Wisconsin 2010 PAC.  In Wisconsin, the group spent an estimated $2 million on issue ads in 2006 and $5 million in the 2010 general elections - $1.5 million on issue ads and about $3.5 million on independent expenditures paid for by the PAC. Documents filed with the state Government Accountability Board list Michael Adams, who is the RGA's general counsel as well as a conservative columnist and political commentator, as the treasurer for Right Direction Wisconsin PAC.

Right Direction PAC rolled out three television ads - here, here and here - in late March 2012 that said taxes, government spending and unemployment all surged under the watches of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

One of the ads showed an elevator going up and down and said Barrett "has increased spending in Milwaukee by over $300 million and raised taxes every year but one. No wonder unemployment is up 27% on his watch;" (corresponding flyer) and "under Madison liberal Kathleen Falk, local property taxes went up and unemployment tripled." The other two ads were very similar and targeted Barrett and Falk separately.  They alternately showed someone doing an internet search of Barrett and Falk and the results show taxes, government spending and unemployment increased while Barrett was mayor and Falk was county executive (corresponding flyer for Barrett).

Falk and Barrett were among four Democratic candidates - and the popularly perceived frontrunners - who eventually faced off in a May 8 primary to determine who would challenge Republican Governor Scott Walker in a June 5 recall election.  Barrett won the primary.

About two weeks before the May primary, the group sponsored an ad that said Milwaukee had gone backward under Barrett because spending, taxes and job losses all increased while he was mayor. The PAC also sponsored radio and television ads - here, here and here - in mid- to late May that again claimed unemployment and taxes increased under Barrett and credited Walker for balancing the budget without raising taxes and for an increase in state job numbers since he was elected governor.

A week before the June 5 recall election, the PAC had reportedly spent more than $8 million on the governor's race - most of it on television advertising. At the same time it sponsored a 30-second television ad  that touts Walker's endorsement by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The Republican Governors Association also operates a 527 group which has to file reports with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that identify its donors and expenses.  Nineteen Wisconsin donors, including corporations, trade groups and individuals, donated $792,725 to the association's 527 group in the first half of 2012 when it raised a total of $29 million and spent $19 million. Topping the list of Wisconsin contributors to the association was the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce which gave $437,725.

Last active election (as RGA Wisconsin 2010 PAC): 2010