Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
Posted: September 12, 2012
Updated: May 18, 2017
Estimated Spending: $1 million
This is the state's largest business group and a powerful influence on public policy and elections for statewide office and the legislature in Wisconsin. WMC spent about $16.8 million on phony issue ads in spring and fall elections since 2006 - mostly to support Republican candidates. The group doled out an estimated $4.7 million in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections that targeted the governor, lieutenant governor and 13 Republican and Democratic state senators for their support or opposition to a successful plan by GOP Governor Scott Walker to restrict public employee collective bargaining.
WMC sponsored a 30-second television ad in mid-September 2012 that claimed Democrat Susan Sommer, a candidate for the 12th District Senate in central Wisconsin, supported environmental policies that would increase gas taxes and utility bills and reduce factory jobs. Sommer sought to fill the open seat formerly held by retiring Democratic Senator Jim Holperin of Conover.
The group also sponsored two 30-second television ads against incumbent Democratic Senator Jessica King who faced Republican challenger Rick Gudex for her 18th Senate District seat. One ad used a game show theme to accuse King of voting against legislation to crack down on welfare fraud, and cited a 2009 case in which an individual bilked the state welfare system for enough money to buy a house and indoor swimming pool.
Another ad accused King of casting the deciding vote on a mining deregulation bill sponsored by majority Republican legislators in spring 2012 to pave the way for a large iron ore mine in far northern Wisconsin. The measure failed on a 17-16 Senate vote when 26 Democrats and a Republican voted against the proposal and 16 Republicans voted for it. Part of the ad uses footage of a union spokesman harshly criticizing the legislature for its handing of the mining bill, but the union rep said he actually supported King (per an article in the Oshkosh Northwestern).
Last active election: Recall 2012