Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on the Republican State Leadership Committee

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Republican State Leadership Committee

Posted: March 23, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $450,000

This is a Virginia-based group created in 2002 that helps elect Republicans to state-level offices around the country. The group’s director, Tim Barnes, is a former Republican Party fundraiser and U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive. The group's chairman, Ed Gillespie, is a former aide to President George W. Bush who worked with ex-Bush aide Karl Rove to create the national Republican front group American Crossroads.

The group was first active in Wisconsin in the 2010 fall legislative races where it made $935,726 in independent expenditures in five races and helped defeat former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker of Wausau. Donations to the RSLC for the 2011 senate recall elections include $450,000 from the Indianapolis-based health insurer Wellpoint and $60,000 from AT&T.

In mid-March 2011, the group sponsored phony issue ads, which do not require it to disclose any of its fundraising and spending like it did in the 2010 elections, against Democratic Senators Jim Holperin of Conover and Dave Hansen of Green Bay.  The two senators were among the Senate’s 14-member Democratic minority who left the state in mid-February for nearly a month in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the GOP-controlled Senate from voting on a proposal by Republican Governor Scott Walker to end most public employee union collective bargaining rights.  The controversy prompted recalls against nine senators - six Republicans and three Democrats - as a referendum on Walker's collective bargaining plan.

The Republican State Leadership Committee's 30-second television ad against Hansen said his support of collective bargaining rights discourages good teachers from staying in Wisconsin because teacher union contracts don’t pay good teachers more than poor teachers.

The group sponsored an ad in August against Holperin that accused him of doing the bidding of unions when he left the state during a budget crisis to avoid voting on the collective bargaining plan.

The Republican State Leadership Committee's PAC reported spending over $300,000 in opposition to Holperin.

Both Hansen and Holperin won their recall elections.