American Federation for Children
Posted: November 25, 2013
Updated: January 17, 2014
Estimated Spending: $450,000
This Washington D.C.-based group pushes for the creation and expansion of school voucher programs in Wisconsin and around the country. School voucher programs use taxpayer dollars to allow children to attend private and religious schools rather than public schools. The issue and groups like the American Federation have the financial support of numerous wealthy conservatives and other powerful special interests.
One of the chief financial forces behind both of the groups is Betsy de Vos, the federation’s chair, and her husband, Dick de Vos, a Michigan billionaire and son of the co-founder of Amway Corporation. Scott Jensen, the federation's senior policy advisor, is a former state Republican Assembly leader who resigned from office as a result of charges in the caucus scandal.
American Federation for Children issued a report in December 12, 2012 claiming it spent about $2.4 million in 2012 on phony issue ads and independent expenditures to support pro-voucher candidates including $794,000 in the fall legislative races. Based on the group’s reported independent expenditures that means the American Federation spent about $450,000 on phony issue ads in fall 2012.
It appears likely most of that phony issue spending was for mailing and broadcast advertising to support Republican Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac, who went on to defeat Democratic Senator Jessica King in the 18th Senate race. The group boasted spending more than $325,000 on the race but reported independent expenditures totaled only about $145,000.
Additional secret issue ad spending may have also occurred in some of Milwaukee– and Wausau–area Assembly races where it made independent expenditures.
Last active election: Recall 2012