Hijacking Campaign 2010 Spending

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Americans for Limited Government

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Americans for Limited Government

Posted: October 25, 2010
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $125,000

Americans for Limited Government is a conservative group that advocates for lower taxes and spending, political term limits and reducing the size of government.  It is among numerous groups founded a few years back by New York real estate magnate Howard Rich, a friend of Grover Norquist,  to push a so-called Taxpayer Bill Rights around the country.

The group sponsored mailings - here and here - in late October that tried to tie Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett to the policies of outgoing Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, and accused Barrett of supporting tax increases as a former state legislator and congressman and current Milwaukee mayor.  "Higher taxes and out-of-control unemployment in Wisconsin!  Sounds like Jim Doyle, doesn't it?  But it's not.  It's someone just as bad," one of the mailings reads.

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Jobs First Coalition

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Jobs First Coalition

Posted: October 22, 2010
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $150,000

Jobs First Coalition is a pro-business and economic development group created in 2009.  The group's website says it monitors state legislative and regulatory activities and takes positions on policy matters, however the group lists no staff and is not registered as a lobbying organization with the state Government Accountability Board.

The group sponsored numerous mailings in October 2010 against incumbent Democratic legislators.  Two mailings - here and here - criticized incumbent Democratic Representative Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville for supporting college tuition breaks for illegal aliens and increasing taxes by $3 billion.  The claims apparently referred to Garthwaite's support of the 2009-11 state budget and legislation that raised some fees and taxes.

Jobs First also sponsored a mailing against incumbent Democratic State Senator Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa that accused him of turning "a blind eye to waste, fraud and abuse" because of problems with the state's child care program while he was co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The group also sponsored a negative mailing against State Senator Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls accusing him of supporting runaway government spending and another that accused Assembly Representative Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire of supporting a tax increase to pay for government health care and taxes on hospitals and nursing homes.

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Wisconsin Family Action Inc.

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Wisconsin Family Action Inc.

Posted: October 22, 2010
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $10,000

Wisconsin Family Action is the issue ad arm of the Wisconsin Family Council, which describes itself as an education group that promotes so-called pro-family legislative and cultural issues, generally by opposing gay marriage and domestic partnership policies in recent year.  The organization spearheaded efforts in 2006 when the so-called marriage protection amendment was overwhelmingly approved by Wisconsin voters.

The group sponsored a mailer in the 2010 elections that claimed incumbent Democratic Representative Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville supports gay marriage because he accepted a campaign contributions from a political action committee controlled by Fair Wisconsin, a Madison-based gay and lesbian advocacy group.  Democracy Campaign records show Garthwaite did not receive a campaign contribution from Fair Wisconsin PAC but it did make $304 worth of independent expenditures in 2008 on Garthwaite's behalf. Independent expenditures are not considered campaign contributions under Wisconsin law and candidates have no influence over them.

Last active election: 2008

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Club for Growth Wisconsin

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Club for Growth Wisconsin

Posted: October 13, 2010
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $100,000

Club for Growth Wisconsin spent an estimated $950,000 on negative broadcast advertising and other electioneering activities in the 2007 and 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court races and the 2008 fall elections.  The group is the state arm of the national Club for Growth which historically support conservative Republican candidates in federal races.

The group sponsored a radio ad about three weeks before the November 2010 elections against Democrat Monk Elmer of Kimberly, who was running for the 1st Senate District open seat against Republican Frank Lasee.  The ad criticized Elmer for voting to raise property taxes as a Kimberly school board member.

Last active election: 2008

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on American Federation for Children

Hijacking Campaign 2010

American Federation for Children

Posted: October 12, 2010
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $700,000

American Federation for Children is a Washington D.C.-based group that promotes school choice programs, which allows children to attend private and religious schools at taxpayer expense, over traditional public education in Wisconsin and around the country.  This organization is a spin-off of the Michigan-based All Children Matter, which spent an estimated $2.5 million on phony issue ads in several legislative races since 2004 and in the 2006 governor's race.

Betsy DeVos, who is the chair of American Federation for Children, and her husband Dick DeVos, a Michigan billionaire and son of the co-founder of Amway Corporation, organized and ran All Children Matter.  Scott Jensen, who is the federation's senior policy advisor, was a former state Republican Assembly leader before he resigned from office as a result of charges in the caucus scandal.

The group sponsored mailings in October 2010 against several incumbent legislative Democrats.  One mailing – here – told readers that Democrats "voted to increase auto insurance bills by as much as $300 a year."  The proposal, which increased the minimum amount of auto insurance people must carry and required all state residents to have auto insurance, was part of the 2009-11 state budget.  The group sponsored these mailings against Assembly Democratic Representatives Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville, Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire, Jim Soletski of Green Bay, Ann Hraychuck of Balsam Lake and Ted Zigmunt of  Francis Creek. 

The federation also sponsored mailings – here and here – criticizing Dexter and Soletski for approving $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House, $46,000 for new garbage cans for a community in Zigmunt's district and $5 million in upgrades for the Bradley Center where the Milwaukee Bucks play.  Those also were among numerous spending items in the 2009-11 state budget.

The group sponsored negative mailings – here and here – against incumbent Democratic State Senator Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls. One of the mailings shows Kreitlow's picture on an old-fashioned "Wanted Poster" and asking:  "Have you seen this job-killing politician?"  Two mailings – here and here – went out in the same area against Democratic candidate C.W. King who is running for the open 67th Assembly District seat.  The group criticizes King, a Chippewa Falls City Council member, for voting to increase the city's garbage tax.

In the 1st Senate District where former Republican Representative Frank Lasee and Democratic candidate Monk Elmer were competing for an open seat, the group sent a mailer smearing Elmer, Kimberly school board president, for higher taxes and spending by the school district. The cover reads:  "Knock, Knock.  Monk Elmer and higher taxes are calling." According to media reports, the group's claims were based on financial problems at a school district in Kimberly, Idaho.

The group's registered corporation – the American Federation for Children Action Fund – spent nearly $119,000 in four legislative races including an unsuccessful effort to help incumbent Democratic State Senator Jeff Plale of South Milwaukee, who was a key backer of Milwaukee's school choice program, keep his seat. Plale lost to a challenger in the Democratic primary.


Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

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. The legislators were Democratic Senators John Lehman of Racine, Patrick Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls, Robert Jauch of Poplar, Kathleen Vinehout of  Alma and Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa; Democratic Representatives Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire, Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville, Jim Soletski of Green Bay, Ted Zigmunt of Francis Creek and Ann Hraychuck of Balsam Lake.

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

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Building a Stronger Wisconsin

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Building a Stronger Wisconsin

Posted: September 14, 2010
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $800,000

This phony issue ad group formed in 2007 to back Democratic legislative candidates spent an estimated $400,000 in the 2008 legislative races.  It claims its chief interests are increasing public awareness about good schools, affordable health care, jobs and infrastructure.  In 2010 Building a Stronger Wisconsin was reportedly run by then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker of Schofield.  Its past leaders include former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala of Madison, who was charged, convicted and jailed in the caucus scandal, and Michael Ryan, a former Wisconsin Laborers District Council official.

Building a Stronger Wisconsin got involved in the 2010 elections with a mid-September radio ad smearing Republican State Senate candidate Terry Moulton who was running against freshman Democratic State Senator Patrick Kreitlow in western Wisconsin's 23rd District.  The ad claimed Moulton opposed abortion in all cases, access to emergency contraception for rape victims and equal pay for women who work the same jobs as men.  The group also sponsored a similar mailing against Moulton.

In mid-October 2010, Building a Stronger Wisconsin sponsored a mailing that slammed Republican Assembly Representative Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa for voting against three proposals in 2005 and 2008 to require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.  Vukmir challenged freshman incumbent Democratic State Senator Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa for his 5th District seat. 

Both Moulton and Vukmir prevailed in their respective races.

Last active election: 2008

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Republican Governors Association

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Republican Governors Association

Posted: June 25, 2010
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $1.5 million

The Republican Governors Association represents GOP governors and spends millions of dollars nationwide on outside electioneering activities to elect Republican candidates for governor.

The national group sponsored its first negative phony issue ads in Wisconsin in the 2006 governors race where it spent more than $2 million to support Republican candidate Mark Green with nasty broadcast ads and mailings that accused Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who defeated Green to win reelection, of accepting campaign contributions from special interests in exchange for expanded tribal gambling agreements and lucrative business contracts with the state.

The Republican Governors Association got involved in the 2010 Wisconsin governor's race with three negative 30-second phony issue ads – here, here and here – in June and July attacking Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett by comparing him to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who is not seeking reelection.  The ads said Barrett, who is mayor of Milwaukee, raised taxes and increased spending at a cost of thousands of private sector jobs.

"Tom Barrett. More taxes, less jobs.  Like Jim Doyle, only worse," one of the ads says.

The group's political action committee, RGA Wisconsin 2010 PAC, released numerous ads between August and October 2010.

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on One Wisconsin Now

Hijacking Campaign 2010

One Wisconsin Now

Posted: June 25, 2010
Updated: January 17, 2014

No Spending Estimate*

One Wisconsin Now is a liberal, Madison-based research and advocacy group created in 2006 that routinely assails state and federal Republican officeholders and candidates, as well as conservative ideological groups, business groups and other special interests on an array of issues including taxes, health care and education.  Unlike many other groups that are vocal only around election time, One Wisconsin Now has been a permanent year-around fixture in Wisconsin politics.

The group has a four-member staff led by a former reporter, Scot Ross, a former secretary of state candidate who has worked for the state Democratic Party, the left-leaning America Coming Together, two statewide political campaigns and the state Department of Justice.

One Wisconsin Now used press releases, petitions and complaints to go after Republican candidates for statewide office and the legislature in the 2006 and 2008 fall elections as well as the spring Supreme Court campaigns of Justices Annette Ziegler in 2007 and Michael Gableman in 2008.

In May and June 2010, the group launched 30-second and 52-second videos on YouTube attacking Republican candidates for governor Mark Neumann and Scott Walker.  The videos resemble negative broadcast ads sponsored by phony issue ad groups.  One Wisconsin Now's videos criticize Neumann and Walker for their proposals to cut taxes for businesses and wealthy taxpayers and reduce government spending for health care, public safety and other state services and programs.

*As One Wisconsin Now's activities were limited to online videos, no estimate is provided.

Hijacking Campaign 2010 - Information on Greater Wisconsin Political Fund

Hijacking Campaign 2010

Greater Wisconsin Political Fund

Posted: May 17, 2010
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $3.04 million

The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund is a Madison-based phony issue ad group affiliated with the Greater Wisconsin Committee PAC and a independent expenditure group of the same name.  Greater Wisconsin was created in 2004 to support Democratic candidates for statewide office and the legislature.  The group also sponsored negative outside electioneering activities on behalf of nonpartisan candidates in the three Wisconsin Supreme Court races held between 2007 and 2009.

The Democracy Campaign estimates the group spent about $8.2 million in Wisconsin's spring and fall elections between 2006 and 2009.  Most of their spending has been on broadcast advertising to smear Republican candidates.

Most of the unregulated group's financial support comes from labor unions and Democratic-leaning ideological groups that are supported by contributions from big business, which is a traditional backer of Republican candidates. 

The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund kicked off its 2010 election season by sponsoring television ads in May that smeared Republican candidates for governor Mark Neumann and Scott Walker for supporting tax cuts for the wealthy and business.  Both ads showed pictures of Neumann and Walker interspersed with pictures of former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.  A portion of one of the ads reads:  "Walker favors cutting health care, even for working families and children.  (Former) Congressman Neumann voted to cut Medicare to pay for tax breaks for the rich.  Let's not repeat the same bad ideas again."

In a mid-September interview, the head of the Democratic Governors Association told reporters his organization had given Greater Wisconsin nearly $1 million to spend on electioneering activities to support Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett.  The association operated the same way during the 2006 governors race when it supported Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's reelection by giving money to Greater Wisconsin rather than sponsoring its own ads.  DGA executive director Nathan Daschle said Wisconsin was one of 10 battleground states in 2010 the group would target. 

At the end of September, the group ran a 30-second television ad referring to the "fighter" ad run earlier by the Walker campaign (view here). The ad utilizes the image of Scott Walker wearing boxing gloves to question just who Walker is fighting for, highlighting a number of big money special interests that they explain he has supported over the years.

Greater Wisconsin sponsored a 30-second television ad in October (linked here via PolitiFact) that accused Walker of lying about Milwaukee County's debt and his support of state-run health care programs.  The ad says the county's debt rose 85 percent despite Walker's claim it was reduced by 10 percent under his watch.  The ad also says Walker wants to cut 350,000 families and children off the state-run BadgerCare health insurance program even though Walker claims to support the program.

The group also sponsored a 60-second radio ad that featured two people conversing in a traffic jam and accusing Walker of supporting toll lanes because powerful special interests want them to increase money for road building.

Greater Wisconsin also sponsored negative broadcast ads and mailings against Republican legislative candidates in the few weeks leading up to the November 2 general election.

The group sponsored a radio ad criticizing Republican Dennis Clinard for supporting tax breaks for the rich and corporate interests.  Clinard is running against incumbent Democratic Representative Mark Radcliffe of Black River Falls.  It also sponsored a mailer claiming that Washington politicians who want to privatize Social Security are some of the big money backing Clinard.

The group also sponsored a 30-second television ad criticizing Republican Assembly candidates Jack Cummings and Travis Tranel, saying the pair supports $2 billion in tax breaks but don't say how they will pay for them.  Cummings, of Endeavor, challenged incumbent Democratic Representative Fred Clark of Baraboo and Tranel, of Cuba City, opposed Democratic Representative Phil Garthwaite of Dickeyville. 

A radio ad against Cummings also accused him of being a Tea Party candidate adding that some Tea Party candidates want to privatize Social Security.  Tranel was smeared in a mailing that depicts a well-dressed man lighting a cigar with a burning Social Security card and claims Tranel sides "with those who want to privatize Social Security - and risk our retirements on Wall Street."

A similar mailing against Republican Howard Marklein of Wilson Creek, who ran for the open 51st Assembly District seat, accused him of being "backed by Washington D.C. politicians who want to privatize Social Security."

Page 1 of 2