Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund

Posted: February 2, 2012
Updated: August 16, 2011

OathSpending

The Greater Wisconsin Committee first registered as a corporation in order to make independent expenditures in the 2010 fall election.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee also has a political action committee that makes independent expendituresactive in this election, and a 527 group called the Greater Wisconsin Poltical Fund which raised nearly $2.5 million, according to a report filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  Its top funder was America Votes, a Washington D.C.-base outside electioneering group formed in 2004 that has spent millions of dollars nationwide to back Democratic candidates for office.  America Votes transferred $1,744,950 to Greater Wisconsin's 527 group followed by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union, which contributed $500,000 and Milwaukee philanthropist Lynde Uihlein, a longtime backer of Democratic candidates and women's causes, who contributed $150,000. 

Herzing College executive Stacey Herzing gave Greater Wisconsin $40,000 followed by Donald Katz and Rebecca Krantz of Madison who contributed $10,000 and Laufenberg, Stombaugh & Jassak, a Milwaukee law firm, which also contributed $10,000.

In March, Greater Wisconsin ran issue ads against five Republican senators facing recall.

In July, Greater Wisconsin sponsored a tri-fold flier smearing Kim Simac, a Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Senator Jim Holperin of Conover for his seat in the August 16 recall election.  The flyer says Simac's views are too radical for northern Wisconsin, saying she once called Medicare a "corrupt, losing venture."  The group also sponsored a 30-second television ad that said Simac paid no state income taxes numerous times in the past decade and was frequently late paying her property taxes.

Greater Wisconsin also sponsored a flier that said Jonathan Steitz, Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie in the August 16 recall, once failed to pay his taxes until a tax warrant was issued.  The flyer refers to a 2003 case where Steitz did not make a quarterly sales tax payment in just such a circumstance.

The group also smeared 18th Senate District incumbent Republican Senator Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac in a 30-second television ad and numerous mailings that highlighted his reported divorce and extra-marital affair.  The broadcast ad said the woman with whom Hopper reportedly had an affair was given a job in the administration of GOP Governor Scott Walker ahead of other qualified applicants and was paid 35 percent more than her predecessor.  The mailings prompted an editorial by the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper that in part called the material "so viscerally vicious that the only conclusion one can draw is that the group is intent on Hopper's personal destruction."

Greater Wisconsin sponsored a 30-second television ad using a series of statements from elderly people who criticized incumbent Republican Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon for supporting policies that cut hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid to public schools and elderly health care programs, but created tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. The group sponsored a similar ad against Republican Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills.

Last active election: 2011 Supreme Court

This organization is registered with the Government Accountability Board following the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC as a corporation making independent disbursements.