Hijacking Campaign 2016 - Information on Americans for Prosperity

Hijacking Campaign 2016

Americans for Prosperity

Posted: June 9, 2016
Updated: May 31, 2017

This group was founded in 2003 by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire owners of Koch Industries and Wisconsin-based papermaker Georgia-Pacific.  Americans for Prosperity backs Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices around the country. Although it does not disclose how much it raises and spends on its outside electioneering activities, the Democracy Campaign estimates that AFP spent an estimated $5.6 million between 2010 and 2015 on legislative and statewide elections in Wisconsin.

While AFP boasted of its various efforts to defeat Democrat Russ Feingold in the Senate election, it did not neglect state legislative elections.

Earlier in the year the Wisconsin arm of Americans for Prosperity proclaimed its intent to send volunteers door-to-door in the eastern 18th Senate District, which covers much of Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties. The seat had changed parties in each of the two previous elections - from Republican to Democrat in a 2011 recall election and back to Republican in the 2012 general election - and the incumbent was not seeking reelection, so it was one of the few legislative seats considered as likely to change partisan hands. AFP said its volunteers would accuse the Democratic candidate, Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, of supporting higher taxes on individuals and businesses.

In mid-October, the group indicated it would distribute three mailings in the 18th Senate race accusing Harris, in his role as Winnebago County executive, of trying to raise property and sales taxes while opposing Governor Walker's tax cuts.

Republican candidate Dan Feyen won the contest.

At the same time AFP publicized its plans in the 18th Senate it announced it would follow the same strategy in the western 32nd Senate District, covering parts of La Crosse, Vernon, Monroe and Crawford counties. AFP said that its volunteers would accuse the Democratic incumbent Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of opposing Republican proposals to freeze or lower property taxes in La Crosse County. Shilling was first elected to the State Senate after defeating the Republican incumbent, Dan Kapanke, in a 2011 recall election. Kapanke was once again her Republican opponent in November.

In mid-August AFP sent volunteers door-to-door in the 50th Assembly District to support the Republican incumbent Rep. Ed Brooks. The group sponsored a flyer that claimed Brooks voted to lower taxes and supported policies to help businesses and create jobs.

The Democracy Campaign estimates that AFP spent $135,000 on these three legislative races.

Last active election: 2014