Hijacking Campaign 2012

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on American Federation for Children

Hijacking Campaign 2012

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

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on MTEA PAC Fund (Milwaukee Teachers)

Hijacking Campaign 2012

MTEA PAC Fund (Milwaukee Teachers)

Posted: May 6, 2013
Updated: January 15, 2014

OathSpending

This is the political action committee used by the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, the union that represents Milwaukee public school teachers, to make campaign contributions.  The PAC has been a consistent campaign contributor over the years.

The PAC filed a late oath and report of independent expenditures totaling $466 for yard signs in the 2012 recall elections. The group opposed Republican Governor Scott Walker who faced Democrat Tom Barrett.  Walker, the lieutenant governor and four incumbent Republican state senators faced recalls in 2012 in response to passage in 2011 of  Walker's bill curtailing public employee collective bargaining rights.

In the years the Democracy Campaign has monitored independent expenditure acvtivity, this is the first time MTEA made any such expenditures.

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on Education Action Group, Inc. - Acct 2

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Education Action Group, Inc. - Acct 2

Posted: March 19, 2013
Updated: January 15, 2014

OathSpending

This corporation was created by a Muskegon, Michgan-based group that opposes public education and teachers unions.  The organization sponsored an online advertisement in support of Republican Governor Scott Walker who faced Democrat Tom Barrett in a June 2012 recall election prompted by Walker's 2011 bill to restrict public employee collective bargaining rights.

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 Campaign 2012 - Information on America Votes Action Fund

Hijacking Campaign 2012

America Votes Action Fund

Posted: October 29, 2012
Updated: January 14, 2014

OathSpending

The Washington D.C.-based America Votes first registered this corporation with the Government Accountability Board to conduct independent expenditure campaigns against Wisconsin Republican state senators targeted for recall in 2011.  The fund did not report making any such expenditures in that summer's nine recall elections; instead, the group transferred money for recall activities to two other groups, the Greater Wisconsin Committee and We Are Wisconsin, the latter a coalition of national labor groups

America Votes is an outside electioneering group that has spent millions of dollars nationwide to back progressive Democratic candidates since the organization was created in 2004.  The group was formed by former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, EMILY's List founder Ellen Malcolm and Harold Ickes, a former adviser to former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. 

In the fall 2012 Wisconsin elections, the corporation sponsored a phone bank backing six Assembly and two Senate Democratic candidates. 

Last active election: Recall 2011

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 Campaign 2012 - Information on Greater Wisconsin Political Fund

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Greater Wisconsin Political Fund

October 29, 2012

This is one of four arms run by the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a Madison-based group created in 2004 to back Democratic and nonpartisan candidates for statewide office and the legislature.  Greater Wisconsin runs a political action committee and a corporation used to make independent expenditures, a phony issue ad group and a 527 organization which have collectively spent an estimated $24.25 million on independent expenditures and phony issue ads to influence Wisconsin elections, including an estimated $10.75 million in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.  The bulk of the group's reported support comes from labor unions and Democratic ideological groups that get much of their support from wealthy business interests though the group refuses to disclose much of its fundraising and spending.

This fall, the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund's 527 reports to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show it spent $757,810 on media from late September to mid-October.  The phony issue ad spending was likely for television advertising in two targeted Senate races.  

The group sponsored a 30-second television ad in eary October against Republican Rick Gudex, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Jessica King in the 18th Senate District.  The ad claimed Gudex's policies would have negative impacts on women's health and reproductive rights.  Another ad accused Gudex of opposing common forms of birth control and emergency contraception for rape victims and supporting restrictions on stem cell research. 

Greater Wisconsin also sponsored a 30-second television ad - via WisPolitics.com - that accused Republican John Macco, who is challenging 30th Senate District incumbent Democrat Dave Hansen, of not paying his income and property taxes on time in the past.

Last active election:  Recall 2012

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on Wisconsin Family Action, Inc. - 1.91 Account

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Wisconsin Family Action, Inc. - 1.91 Account

Posted: October 26, 2012
Updated: January 15, 2014

OathSpending

This is a new corporation created by Wisconsin Family Action that made independent expenditures on behalf of Republican candidates in four Senate and five Assembly races.  Wisconsin Family Action is a conservative group that opposes gay marriage and domestic partnership.  Between the 2006 fall and the 2011 recall elections the group spent an estimated $1 million on phony issue ads, $850,000 on the recall elections alone.

The organization's first notable outside electioneering efforts occurred in 2006 when it spent large, undisclosed amounts on television ads and other activities to support the so-called marriage protection amendment approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

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 Campaign 2012 - Information on Koch Industries, Inc.

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Koch Industries, Inc.

Poster: October 25, 2012
Updated: January 14, 2014

OathSpending

This is a corporation created in 2010 by Koch Industries to make independent expenditures in Wisconsin elections. Koch Indutries is a Wichita, Kansas-based energy conglomerate and the second-largest privately owned company in the United States. As of fall 2012, Its owners, brothers Charles and David Koch, had contributed more than $100 million to conservative political and social causes throughout the U.S., according to numerous media reports - here, here and here

In addition to independent expenditures through this corporation and direct contributions to candidates from its political action committee, the billionaire brothers are also the major funders behind a shadowy phony issue ad group called Americans for Prosperity which spent tens of millions of dollars in state and federal races in recent years to elect conservative Republicans.  While Koch Industries corporate arm only spent $1,611 on independent expenditures in the 2010 elections, Americans for Prosperity doled out an estimated $4.5 million in Wisconsin elections since between 2010 and June 2012 - mostly to support Republican Governor Scott Walker's June 2012 recall election.

The corporation reported only $1,060.29 in independent expenditures to support eleven Republican Assembly incumbents iin the 2012 fall elections.

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 Campaign 2012 - Information on Citizens for a Strong America

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Citizens for a Strong America

Posted: October 11, 2012
Updated: May 18, 2017

Estimated Spending: $35,000

This conservative, phony issue ad group was created in 2011 to support Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in his spring reelection campaign and spent an estimated $2.7 million on phony issue ads in the 2011 Supreme Court and recall elections.  Citizens for a Strong America lists only a Columbus, Wisconsin post office box as its address and claims to be made up of citizens, businesses and nonprofit groups that support lower taxes, increased public safety and more parental control over a child’s well-being. 

The group's website* was registered to a John Connors whose Milwaukee address is in the same building as Americans for Prosperity, a phony issue ad group heavily involved in Wisconsin and federal elections. Connors is also a former national director of Students for Prosperity, an arm of Americans for Prosperity.  The organization lists Valerie Johnson as its treasurer.  Johnson is the wife of longtime GOP political operative R.J. Johnson who heads another outside electioneering group called Club for Growth Wisconsin.

Citizens for a Strong America sponsored radio ads against two Assembly Democratic candidates about a month before the fall 2012 elections. One ad accused candidate Maureen May-Grimm of supporting tax increases as a Mineral Point School Board member when people could least afford to pay higher taxes.  May-Grimm ran against 51th Assembly District incumbent Howard Marklein.  The group also sponsored an ad criticizing Assemby 49th District candidate Carol Beals who challenged incumbent Republican Travis Tranel.

The group also sponsored mailings attacking incumbent Democratic Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay who faces Republican challenger John Macco for his 30th Senate District seat and Republican incumbent Representative Scott Krug's challenger, Democrat Justin Pluess in the 72nd Assembly District.

*A May 18, 2017 attempt to reach this site's URL, http://citizensforamerica.net/, retrieves a "403, Forbidden Error." An ICANN WHOIS search shows that the site is registered to a Japanese company, onamae.org.

Last active election: Recall 2011

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on Club for Growth Wisconsin

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Club for Growth Wisconsin

Posted: October 11, 2012
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $1.3 million

The Club for Growth Wisconsin is the state arm of the national Club for Growth which supports conservative Republican candidates for federal office.  The state group  refuses to disclose how much it spends on negative electioneering activities, but the Democracy Campaign estimates that before the fall 2012 elections it had doled out more than $10.1 million on phony issue ads to influence Wisconsin elections since 2007, including $9.1 million in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections involving the governor, lieutenant governor and 13 state senators.

The group is run from a Sun Prairie address by long-time GOP political operative R.J. Johnson.

Club for Growth Wisconsin sponsored a 30-second television ad  that accused 30th Senate District incumbent Democrat Dave Hansen of voting for college tuition breaks for illegal aliens but not supporting tuition benefits for veterans in the past.

Last active election: 2012 Recall

Hijacking Campaign 2012 - Information on Jobs First Coalition

Hijacking Campaign 2012

Jobs First Coalition

Posted: October 3, 2012
Updated: January 17, 2014

Estimated Spending: $10,000

Jobs First Coalition was created in 2009 to support Republican legislative candidates in the 2010 fall elections. They also ran issue ad campaigns in a spring 2011 special election and the August 2011 recall elections.  The group's executive director is Bob Reddin, a Brookfield alderman with a background in government and media relations supporting business development in the Milwaukee area. 

During the 2012fall  legislative campaigns, the group reportedly ran a direct mail campaign in the 49th Assembly District against Democrat Carol Beals, who challenged incumbent Republican Travis Tranel. The Platteville area district was viewed as a left-leaning district following the 2011 legislative redistricting process.

Last active election: Recall 2011