Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on Americans for Prosperity

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Americans for Prosperity

Posted: August 2, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $800,000

Americans for Prosperity is a conservative organization created in 2003 that touts many of the same principles as other conservative groups - lower taxes, smaller government and less spending.  The organization was founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who made their fortune in the oil and gas industry.  The state chapter's director is Matt Seaholm, a former staff member for Republican U.S. Representative Sean Duffy and Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

The group first engaged in outside electioneering activities in Wisconsin in 2006, and spent an estimated $25,000 on the state school superintendent's race in Spring 2009

The organization generally supports conservative Republican candidates for state and federal office and reportedly spent $380,000 in March 2011 on television ads - like this one - that supported Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to restrict public employee collective bargaining rights.  That plan prompted recall elections in July and August against nine state senators - six Republicans and three Democrats. 

In July 2011, Americans for Prosperity purchased $150,000 worth of advertising time in the Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay television markets to support incumbent Republican senators in their August 9 recall elections.  At the same time, the group reportedly mailed absentee ballot applications and instructions to voters in two Senate recall elections that erroneously told recipients to submit the material to their city clerks after the election.

The group sponsored nearly identical 30-second television ads supporting incumbent Republicans Senators Luther Olsen of Ripon, Rob Cowles of Green Bay and Alberta Darling of River Hills.  The ads commended the Republicans for voting against higher taxes, spending and policies that discourage job growth while Democrats were in charge of the state.

Americans for Prosperity also sponsored ads accusing incumbent Democratic Senator Jim Holperin of Conover and Democratic Representative Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse of supporting $5 billion in new taxes and spending in years past when the Democrats controlled the legislature or the governor's office. Shilling challenged and defeated incumbent Republican Senator Dan Kapanke of La Crosse in the 2011 recall.

With the exception of Kapanke, all of the incumbents mentioned above won their respective recall elections.

Last active election: Spring 2009