Posted: February 14, 2018
Updated: December 12, 2019
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) is the state’s largest business organization and one of the most powerful special interest groups in Wisconsin because of its electioneering and lobbying activities.
WMC is among the leaders in spending on outside electioneering activities. Since January 2010, the group secretly raised and spent more than $18.6 million on phony issue ads and independent expenditures. WMC supports Republican and conservative candidates for statewide office and the legislature, generally by sponsoring negative broadcast ads and mailings that smear Democratic candidates.
WMC spent more than $1.1 million in August on television ads around the state to help GOP Gov. Scott Walker. One ad accused Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers, who is currently state school superintendent, of spending $400,000 in 2012 and 2014 on pay raises for state Department of Public Instruction staff instead of teachers even though that money was appropriated by the Republican-controlled legislature and Walker for state worker pay increases and not teachers.
Earlier, in the 2018 spring elections, WMC sponsored more than $700,000 worth of television ads on behalf of conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock. One of its television ads and a similar, digital ad criticized Screnock's opponent, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet, for her handling of a child sexual assault case. WMC spent more than an estimated $1.2 million altogether.
An earlier television ad by the group - here - claimed Screnock was a tough judge, and urged listeners to call and thank him for "keeping dangerous predators behind bars."
Screnock, a Sauk County Circuit Court judge, faced Dallet in the April 3 general election for a 10-year seat on the court to replace Justice Michael Gableman, who decided not to seek reelection. Dallet won the election.
In addition to outside electioneering, the group has spent millions of dollars over the years to lobby the governor and legislators, who received WMC support to get or hold their jobs, on dozens of anti-labor, environmental deregulation, pro-school voucher, anti-local control, pro-business, and other state policy and spending measures.
Last active election: 2016