Hijacking Special Elections 2011

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on Sheet Metal Workers International Association Political Action League

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Sheet Metal Workers International Association Political Action League

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 14, 2014

OathSpending

This Washington D.C.-based political action committee registered in March 2011 with the state’s Government Accountability Board to make independent expenditures to support the state Senate’s 14 Democrats, eight of whom were eligible for recall under state law.

Senate Democrats abruptly left the state in mid-February so the Senate could not vote on Republican Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget repair bill which included a controversial plan to end most public employee collective bargaining rights. Senate Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to retool and pass the bill in mid-March.

The controversy resulted in recall efforts against all eligible state senators from both parties. Six Republican and three Democratic senators faced recall elections in the summer of 2011.

The Sheet Metal Workers never reported making any independent expenditures.

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on DFA - Wisconsin

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

DFA – Wisconsin

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 13, 2014

OathSpending

This Wisconsin political action committee was created in March 2011 by Vermont-based Democracy for America. Democracy for America was founded in 2004 by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to support Democratic candidates.

In March 2011 DFA – Wisconsin registered with the state’s Government Accountability Board to make independent expenditures against eight GOP state senators and in support of nine Democratic state senators. DFA was just one of many special interest groups from outside Wisconsin that sought to recall state senators following passage of Republican Governor Scott Walker's bill to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Democracy for America teamed with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in mid-March 2011 to sponsor a television ad urging the recall of three Republican senators and an automated telephone campaign to constituents of five Republican senators criticizing them for their support of Walker’s bill.

The PAC reported spending over $279,000 in five senate recall elections.

Last active election: 2011 Supreme Court

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on WEAC PAC

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

WEAC PAC

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 14, 2014

OathSpending

This is the political action committee of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, and a perennially powerful player on Wisconsin political scene.

Among labor unions, WEAC is among the largest direct contributors to candidates for statewide office and the legislature. It is also one of the biggest-spending outside electioneering groups in Wisconsin fall and spring elections, making independent expenditures of more than $4.6 million between 2008 and 2010.

WEAC boasts 98,000 members across the state and many of them were among the thousands of unionized public employees and other supporters who participated in weeks of protests in February and March 2011 at the State Capitol over Republican Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to severely restrict collective bargaining rights for state and local employees. The proposal passed despite the protests and the efforts of Democratic legislators.

Walker’s plan spawned recall efforts against eight Republican state senators who approved it. A corresponding effort was mounted against Democratic senators who left the state in Februrary 2011 to forestall a vote on Walker's controversial bill.

On March 7, 2011 WEAC filed an oath of independent disbursements with the Government Accountablity Board opposing all eight Republican senators eligible for recall. Six of those senators were taken to recall on August 9. On June 28, WEAC filed an additional oath in support of Democratic Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay who faced a July 19 recall election. On June 30, WEAC reported sending more than $74,000 on radio ads supporting Senator Hansen. On July 21, WEAC filed an oath extending its support to all the other Democrats involved in recall elections on August 9 and 16.

On July 28, 2011 WEAC reported spending over $400,000 on radio ads in seven different senate districts - 10, 12, 14, 18, 22, 30 and 32.

WEAC spent nearly half a million dollars on the 2011 recall elections.

Last active election: 2010

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America

Posted: March 18, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $725,000

Both of these groups are political action committees that have teamed up in the past to sponsor outside electioneering activities and provide resources to elect Democratic congressional candidates. They also sponsored advertising against members of Congress who opposed parts of the federal health care reform law.

Democracy for America is a Vermont-based political action committee that was founded in 2004 by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to support Democratic candidates and causes through broadcast advertising and other outside electioneering activities.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee was formed in January 2009 and says it provides political advice and other practical campaign resources, like experienced staff, to Democratic candidates rather than making large independent expenditures on their behalf.

Democracy for America reported spending about $280,000 in March and April 2011 when both groups, which had not engaged in outside electioneering in Wisconsin earlier, sponsored two television ads. One television ad shows film clips of thousands of people marching in snow around the State Capitol during the public employee union protests in February and March. The ad features interviews with protesters who criticized Republican Governor Scott Walker’s plan to abolish most collective bargaining rights for public employees and they also shared how much the loss collective bargaining would cost them.  At the end of the ad is the message:  “Recall Randy Hopper, Robert Cowles and Luther Olsen.”

Hopper of Fond du Lac, Cowles of Green Bay and Olsen of Ripon were three of the 18 Republicans who controlled the state Senate early in 2011 and approved Walker’s plan to abolish most collective bargaining rights for public employees.

The groups also sponsored a television ad that shows interviews with current and retired state workers and school teachers purportedly working on recall efforts against Republican state senators.  The interviews talk about how Walker's plan will hurt education and middle class families.  One version of the ad advocates the recalls of Republican Senators Alberta Darling of suburban Milwaukee, Glenn Grothman of West Bend and Mary Lazich of New Berlin.  Another version of the same ad advocates the recalls Olsen, Cowles and Hopper.  And a third version of the recall ad targets Republican Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. Neither Grothman nor Lazich ended up facing recall elections.

The groups also sponsored automated telephone calls to constituents of four Republican state senators criticizing them for voting for Walker’s plan while also supporting large tax cuts for corporations.  Those targeted senators were Olsen, Cowles, Michael Ellis of Neenah and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse.  A fifth GOP senator who was targeted by the groups was Dale Schultz of Richland Center who voted against Walker’s collective bargaining rights plan. Ellis and Schultz did not have recall elections called against them.

The two groups also made independent expenditures in the 2011 summer recall elections, Progressive Change Campaign Committee through its poltical action committee and corporation, Democracy for America through its PAC, DFA - Wisconsin.

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on the Greater Wisconsin Committee

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Greater Wisconsin Committee

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $1.8 million

The Greater Wisconsin Committee is a Madison-based phony issue ad group that spent an estimated $13.5 million in Wisconsin’s fall and spring elections to support Democratic candidates for statewide office and the legislature and nonpartisan candidates in Wisconsin Supreme Court races between 2006 and 2010.

Most of the Greater Wisconsin Committee’s financial support comes from organized labor and Democratic ideological groups supported by wealthy business interests.  The group operates four entities – a political action committee and a corporate arm that makes independent expenditures as well as a phony issue ad group and a 527 group called the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund.

Most of Greater Wisconsin’s outside electioneering activities consist of negative broadcast ads, but much of its fundraising and spending for those activities does not have to be disclosed to the public.

The committee sponsored two ads in late July 2011 condemning incumbent Republican Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon.  One ad said Olsen had "the wrong priorities for our families" because he supported GOP Governor Scott Walker's state budget which cut $800 million in state aid to public schools and gave $200 million in tax exemptions to corporations and wealthy individuals.  Another ad accused Olsen of endangering families by opposing policies to restrict or regulate cyanide, mercury and other kinds of water pollution.

Greater Wisconsin also sponsored an ad supporting incumbent Democratic Senator Jim Holperin of Conover, saying he supported policies important to northern Wisconsin's economy, including create jobs and preserve state aid for public schools and job training programs.

In March, Greater Wisconsin sponsored television ads attacking five other Republican state senators who also were targeted for recall elections by organized labor and their supporters.  The ads, which were virtually identical, criticized Senators Alberta Darling of suburban Milwaukee, Robert Cowles of Green Bay, Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse.  The six senators were targeted for recalls because they voted to strip Wisconsin’s public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights with state and local governments. The measure was part of Republican Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.  The ads said Walker and the senators abolished collective bargaining rights in a “backroom maneuver,” and that Walker’s proposed 2011-13 state budget assailed middle class families with its cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars to public schools and elderly health care programs.

Greater Wisconsin also sponsored mailings in mid-July attacking Cowles and Kapanke.  The anti-Kapanke flyer said the senator supports Walker's anti-middle class agenda which cut $800 million from public education in favor of preserving or creating tax breaks for big business and wealthy individuals.

Kapanke and Hopper were defeated in the recall elections.

For information on the organization's independent expenditure activity see the Greater Wisconsin Commitee PAC and the Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund.

Last active election: Supreme Court 2011

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

Posted: March 18, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $150,000

This is a Washington D.C.-based fundraising group connected with the national Democratic Party that supports Democratic candidates in state legislative elections nationwide. Past and current U.S. Internal Revenue Service records show the organization gets support from unions and large corporations.

The committee was first active in Wisconsin in the late 1990s and the 2000 and 2002 legislative elections when it was part of a shell game that helped illegal corporate money flow into legislative races. Their activities in the Badger State and elsewhere were investigated by the FBI for federal campaign finance law violations. The committee wholly or partially funded five independent expenditure groups in Wisconsin, including Independent Citizens for Democracy.

Independent Citizens was run by former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala who was later convicted in the state Capitol corruption scandal and sentenced to nine months in jail for misconduct in public office and making an illegal campaign contribution.

In mid-March 2011, the committee launched a television ad attacking Republican State Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon who became the target of a recall election by organized labor and their supporters because he was among 18 Republican senators who control the Senate and voted to strip Wisconsin’s public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining rights with state and local governments. The measure was part of Republican Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.

The ad criticized Olsen for abolishing most public employee collective bargaining rights and for failing to oppose provisions in Governor Walker’s proposed 2011-2013 state budget that cut hundreds of millions of dollars in state education and health care programs for seniors. “Call Senator Olsen, tell him to stop rolling over on Wisconsin families,’’ the ad says.

The group also conducted independent expenditure campaigns in the 2011 recall elections through its DLCC Wisconsin PAC.

Past Issue Ad Activity: 2002

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on Club for Growth Wisconsin

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Club for Growth Wisconsin

Posted: March 18, 2011
Updated: January 16, 2014

Estimated Spending: $9 million

Club for Growth Wisconsin is the state affiliate of the national Club for Growth, a long time supporter of conservative Republican candidates in federal races. Between 2007 and 2010 the state group spent more than $1 million on mostly broadcast advertising in Wisconsin’s spring and fall elections.

This organization was among the most active Republican groups sponsoring negative television advertising and other outside electioneering activities in nine summer recall elections - three against incumbent Democratic state senators and six against incumbent Republican state senators.  The Democrats were targeted for their opposition to and the Republican for their support of GOP Governor Scott Walker's 2011 bill to end most public employee collective bargaining rights.

The issue ad arm of Club for Growth was not required to report how much it raised and spent, like other phony issue ad groups, but Club for Growth's 527 arm - so-named for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service law that governs 527 groups - reported contributions totaling $718,500 for the summer recall elections.  Leading the list was $275,000 from Kenneth Griffin, chief executive officer of asset management and securities firm Citadel LLC, which has offices in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong.  Other contributions to the group included $250,000 from Texas oilman Trevor Rees-Jones, $91,000 from the American Federation for Chidren Action based in Alexandria, Virginia, $50,000 from the Federal Express political action committee, $25,000 each from Defend America PAC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the Bluegrass Committee in Washington controlled by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and $2,500 from the Free & Strong America PAC in Belmont, Massachusetts controlled by Republican 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In early August, the organization sponsored two nearly identical ads against Democratic Representatives Fred Clark of Baraboo and Sandy Pasch of Whitefish Bay.  The ads accused the pair of voting to cut tuition benefits to veterans but provide tuition breaks for illegal aliens when they both voted for the 2009-11 state budget.  Clark challenged Republican Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon and Pasch Republican Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills in August 9 recall elections. Neither challenger was successful.

The group also sponsored three additional 30-second television ads accusing Pasch of voting against funding to catch Internet predators and other sex offenders; to increase property taxes and other taxes; and against funding to catch daycare providers who scam the state.

Radio Ad

  Play

In July, Club for Growth sponsored three nearly identical 30-second television ads attacking Clark, Pasch and Democratic Representative Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse and a 30-second radio ad (at left) assailing Pasch in much the same way Democrats traditionally go after Republican candidates.  The television ads - here's the one against Clark - accused the trio of voting for more than $30 million worth of pork-barrel projects to benefit special interests while supporting nearly $300 million in cuts to public education and millions more in cuts to elderly health care programs in the 2009-11 state budget.  Shilling opposed and unseated Republican Senator Dan Kapanke of La Crosse in an August 9 recall election.  Another, similar 30-second television ad said Pasch hurt working families by voting to raise property taxes, as well as nursing home, gas and garbage taxes.

Club for Growth sponsored a 30-second television ad in June composed of video clips of 10th Senate District Democratic candidate Shelly Moore loudly addressing crowds.  The ad ends with a narrator saying, "Tell Shelly Moore we need solutions, not shouting."  Moore, an Ellsworth High School teacher, ran against incumbent Republican Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. 

In March, Club for Growth Wisconsin sponsored a television ad on behalf of Darling that claimed she supported policies to bring more businesses to Wisconsin and "her leadership will help put Wisconsin back on track and back to work.”

Last active election: Supreme Court 2011

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on CREDO

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

CREDO

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 8, 2014

OathSpending

This cellular phone company is an offshoot of Working Assets which donates a portion of its charges to human rights, environmental and social causes voted on by the customers, including groups like Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, American Civil Liberties Union and Doctors Without Borders, among others.

CREDO first registered as a corporation with the Government Accountability Board on March 3, 2011. On March 7, CREDO filed an oath of independent disbursements in oppostion to eight Republican senators targeted for recall, six of whom faced recall elections in August 2011.

CREDO reported no spending in the recall elections.

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.

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011 - Information on American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc.

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc.

Posted: March 21, 2011
Updated: January 13, 2014

OathSpending

American Federation for Children is based in Washington D.C. and promotes school choice programs in Wisconsin and across the country. School choice allows children to attend private and religious schools at taxpayer expense, rather than public schools.

This organization spent an estimated $820,000 on independent expenditures and phony issue ad activity in the 2010 fall legislative races. The group is an offshoot of the Michigan-based All Children Matter which spent an estimated $2.5 million on phony issue ad activity in legislative races from 2004 through 2008, and in the 2006 governor’s race.

Betsy de Vos, who is the chair of American Federation for Children, and her husband Dick de Vos, 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.

On March 16, 2011 the corporation filed an oath of independent disbursements with the Government Accountability Board indicating its intent to support eight Republican senators currently eligible for recall as well as one of the fourteen Democrats who left the state in February to prevent a vote on the controversial "budget repair" bill that prompted the recall movement. The budget prepare bill strictly limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. Six of the Republicans were forced into recall elections in August 2011.

At about the same time it filed the oath, American Federation sponsored automated telephone calls to constituents of the eight recall-eligible Republican senators. The calls claimed special interests were trying to force the senators from office because they supported requiring public workers to pay part of their pension and health care costs. Futhtermore, the calls argued that people should not sign the recall petitions just because they may disagree with an elected official on a single issue.

Automated Telephone Call

Last active election: 2010

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.

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011: Issue Ads

Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011

Issue Ads

Posted: March 10, 2011
Updated: January 17, 2014

Groups that seek to influence the 2011 special and recall elections by conducting “issue ads.”