Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has received at least $1.3 million in recall campaign contributions from donors who attended secretive right-wing fundraisers organized by Charles and David Koch, a Center for Media and Democracy analysis shows.
Twice a year for the past nine years, the Koch brothers have held exclusive meetings of businessmen and right-wing activists to, "combat what is now the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes," according to Charles Koch, and raise millions for political causes and candidates.
While the meetings are intentionally kept secret (attendees are warned against speaking with the press), a program from the 2010 summit in Aspen, Colorado was leaked to the New York Times and Think Progress and included a list of attendees. At least twenty of those in attendance have given thousands -- and in a few cases, hundreds of thousands -- to Scott Walker in recent months as the embattled governor faces a recall election. Overall, these donors have given Walker at least $1.3 million. A full list of Walker contributors known to have attended the Koch donor seminars is below.
Mother Jones obtained audio from the June 2011 meeting, including a segment where Charles Koch personally thanks donors who pledged more than $1 million to the Kochs' favored causes (a program from the meeting with a full list of attendees was not leaked). Many of those named also gave to Walker and attended the 2010 meeting, including Art Pope (who gave Walker $25,000), John "J.W." Childs ($100,000), Joseph Craft ($25,000), Richard DeVos ($250,000), Foster Friess ($100,000), and Diane Hendricks ($500,000). John "Jack" Templeton was also given a shout-out at the 2011 meeting, and he and his wife Josephine gave Walker $10,000 each in April.
Wisconsinite and Walker donor Fred Young spoke at the June 2011 meeting and told the crowd, "I attended my first Koch seminar in January of 2004, which I offer as an endorsement of what I think is the effectiveness of this group over the years of doing this." Like other individuals who attended the Kochs' donor summits, such as M&I Bank executive Dennis Kuester, Young maxed-out his contributions to Scott Walker in the 2010 election.
Young continued: "Especially now in these times that we're facing, this is an effective outfit and I hope you'll stay with us ... it's a well-oiled machine."
Additional, Indirect Koch Support
In February, David Koch told the Palm Beach Post that he was going to help Walker get reelected. "We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years."
"If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power."
However, no direct contributions from either Charles or David Koch were reported on Walker's campaign filings.
This is likely because the Kochs are aiding Walker indirectly with their 501(c)(3) "charity" Americans for Prosperity, which has been working with the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute to spend millions on the "It's Working!" campaign -- a series of ads and townhall meetings asserting that Walker's austerity budget and collective bargaining limits are "working." The groups have spent $2.9 million on TV ads to date and untold sums on townhall meetings, staff, rallies, direct mail, and internet.
Tim Phillips, the president of AFP (and former head of the Wisconsin chapter), and MacIver Institute board member Steve Fettig also attended the Koch's donor summit, as did AFP board member Art Pope, who donated $25,000 directly to Walker.
It is not known how much the Kochs have raised for AFP or the "Its Working!" campaign from these donor meetings. But as David Koch told the Palm Beach Post:
"We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."
Donors to the Walker recall campaign who attended Koch donor summits in recent years include:
- James "Art" Pope: North Carolina businessman and political figure, Americans for Prosperity board member ($25,000 on 02/10/2012)
- Frank Baxter: Chairman Emeritus of Jeffries and Company ($2,500 on 4/23/2012)
- John Bryan: both lists mention A John Bryan, but give no details ($25,000 on 1/17/2012)
- Alan Boeckmann: Chairman of the Fluor Corporation ($2,500 on 3/29/2012)
- John Childs: Chairman of J.W. Childs and Associates ($100,000 on 4/23/2012)
- Joseph Craft: Alliance Coal ($25,000 in December of 2011)
- Richard DeVos: Founder of Amway ($250,000 on 3/16/2012)
- Robert Fettig: Tankcraft ($2,500 on 7/7/2011)
- Foster Friess: ($100,000 on 11/16/2011)
- Stanley Hubbard: Founder and Chairman of Hubbard Broadcasting ($10,000 on 11/18/2011)
- Diane Hendricks: Husband of the late Ken Hendricks, who ran ABC supply ($500,000 on 4/13/2012)
- Randy Kendrick: Datatel ($2,500 on 3/1/2012)
- Dennis Kuster: Marshall & Isley bank ($50,000 on 12/9/2011
- Robert Luddy: President of Captive Aire Systems ($50,000 in april of 2012)
- Larry Nichols: President of Devon Energy ($5,000 on 4/17/2012)
- Chris Rufer: president of the Morning Star Company ($1,500 on 3/25/2012)
- Richard Weekley: Weekley Properties and Texans for Lawsuit Reform ($24,000 on 1/17/2012; his brother David also gave $10,000)
- Richard Weiss: Wells Capitol Management and Wells Fargo ($2,000 on 2/16/2012)
- Fred Young and wife Sandra: Former owner of Young Radiators and trustee of the Kochs' Reason Foundation. ($26,000 on 1/24/12 [$13,000 each])
- John "Jack" Templeton and his wife Josephine ($20,000; $10,000 on 4/09/12 and $10,000 on 4/19/12)
While direct donations to gubernatorial candidates are typically capped at $10,000, a quirk in Wisconsin campaign finance law allowed Walker to accept unlimited contributions between the time recall petitions were filed and the date an election was certified.