Hijacking Campaign 2014 - Information on Right Direction Wisconsin PAC

Hijacking Campaign 2014

Right Direction Wisconsin PAC

Posted: February 28, 2014
Updated: May 30, 2017


This is one of numerous state political action committees around the country that are used by the Republican Governors Association to spend tens of millions of dollars received through the group’s 527 organization from wealthy individual and corporate special interests to support GOP candidates for governor throughout the U.S.

The Republican Governors Association spent an estimated $16.4 million in Wisconsin on independent expenditures and phony issue ads in three elections for governor between 2006 and 2012, including an estimated $14.4 million in the 2010 general and 2012 recall elections to support incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker. It ranks among the top groups in spending on outside electioneering activities which consist mostly of negative broadcast ads about Democratic candidates.

The group claimed it and its "partners" spent $8 million on media to help Walker win reelection in 2014 and sponsored six television ads between February and September to support him. It only reported spending nearly $4 million to the Government Accountability Board.

The Republican Governors Association sponsored a 30-second television ad in mid-February that smeared Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke. The ad implied Burke was partly to blame for the roughly 130,000 jobs lost in Wisconsin and $3 billion state budget deficit that occurred during her stint as state Commerce secretary in the administration of former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. The ad also claimed Burke’s family-owned Trek Bicycle business outsourced jobs to China amid high unemployment rates in Wisconsin. PolitiFact Wisconsin researched the content of the ad and rated it as mostly false.

The group launched a second 30-second television ad in early March that continued to criticize Burke's track record as Commerce secretary under Doyle and that her spending and policy initiatives would take Wisconsin backwards.

A third 30-second television ad launched in mid-March accused Burke of attacking Walker because she has no plan of her own on how to create jobs.

The group sponsored a fourth televison ad in early September that echoed its previous Burke criticisms, accusing her of being in favor of higher taxes and government spending and having a poor record on job creation.

The PAC released a fifth and a sixth television ad in late September that criticized Burke for copying parts of job creation proposals from past Democratic candidates from around the country to use as her own.

To help pay for the ads, the Republican Governors Association’s 527 group collected $2.8 million from Wisconsin individuals, companies and trade groups between January 2013 and March 2014 including $1.5 million from Mike and Mary Sue Shannon of Milwaukee. Mike Shannon is co-founder of KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in travel and leisure businesses.

Other top contributors to the association during the 15-month period were the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, $268,750; American Transmission Company in Waukesha which owns and operates high-voltage electric transmission lines throughout the Upper Midwest, $250,000; the Robert and Patricia Kern 1992 Revocable Trust, $200,000; USCC Services LLC in Middleton – an affiliate of U.S. Cellular, $150,000; and the Forest County Potawatomi Community which operates a Milwaukee casino whose economic livelihood hinged on an upcoming casino project decision by Walker, $60,000.

The Potawatomi had long opposed a proposed mega-casino project for Kenosha by the Menominee Indian Tribe which was awaiting final approval by the governor at the time of the election. Walker nixed the casino the following January. According to opensecrets.org, the Potawatomi had contributed a total of $160,900 to the Republican Governors Association between July 2011 and the election.

Last active election: 2012 Recall