Wisconsin's hotly-contested race to select its GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate is another battle between out-of-state Super PACs and Tea Party-associated nonprofits spending millions to convince election-weary voters to select their preferred candidate. The influx of outside spending is fueling a race to the right as candidates compete for the label of "true conservative." Here is a rundown of the groups spending big to influence Wisconsin's GOP primary.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker flew to DC over the weekend to thank the Americans For Prosperity astroturf group for its help with the Wisconsin recall. Walker headlined AFP's 2012 "Defending the American Dream" Summit two months after winning his June 5 recall battle -- with a $10 million assist from the organization that was founded and is funded and led by billionaire David Koch. (The $10 million spent by AFP was $3 million more than what was spent by Walker's opponent.)
Madison, WI -- Three months after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a PR statement that it was eliminating its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which was previously led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the NRA announced that it would still be hosting its regular annual shooting event at ALEC's summer convention, in Salt Lake City on July 28. For the past several years, on the Saturday of ALEC's annual meeting, the NRA has regularly hosted an outing for ALEC legislators and lobbyists to go shooting together -- with complimentary guns and ammo plus plenty of food and drink (this time it is a barbeque).
Editor's note: The Center for Media and Democracy is pleased to publish this important investigative work about a new and far-reaching effort to spin news about state legislation, which has been examined by Media Matters for America's Joe Strupp. CMD recently published two related stories, one on the Franklin Center's operations and one about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Media Matters' original story is available here.
When Idaho state legislators proposed a seemingly uncontroversial bill to ban access to commercial tanning beds by minors earlier this year, IdahoReporter.com took up the issue with force.
Tucker Carlson's website, the "Daily Caller," recently posted a story claiming that a Florida state legislator had rebutted a purported claim by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "drafted" Florida's "Stand Your Ground" (SYG)/"Castle Doctrine" law.
Buses paid for by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP), as part of its "Better Wisconsin" tour, and the Tea Party Express, with its "Reclaiming America" bus tour, converged in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday evening.
Both groups, which do not disclose who is bankrolling their operations, are touring Wisconsin on the eve of the election to rally voters to back controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his allies facing recall. AFP, a non-profit under the tax code and not a registered PAC, has claimed its bus tour has nothing to do with the pending recall election; the Center for Media and Democracy has asked AFP to reveal who is funding its campaign, and the director of its state operations has refused. The Tea Party Express has also previously indicated that as a non-profit group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code it need not disclose its funders.
Video was obtained and released by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel less than a month before the June 5th recall election for Wisconsin governor that shows newly elected Governor Scott Walker in a frank conversation with one of his biggest supporters.
Conservative columnist and Fox contributor Michelle Malkin was on Fox News with host Sean Hannity recently complaining about the "lynch mobs" going after Republican donors and organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to Malkin, President Barack Obama is behind the grassroots efforts to push back on ALEC and on Rush Limbaugh for his offensive attacks on law student Sandra Fluke.
Hannity complained to Malkin that Democrats are, "elevating controversies like the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, Sandra Fluke case." Malkin lamented, "America has been collectively a slow learner when it comes to [President] Barack Obama." She added: "We were frustrated, you and I, trying to get the message out in 2008, and that is why we're trying overtime, redoubling our efforts to vet the president, not only his record over the last four years, but everything that led up to his grooming, the marinating in this leftist, progressive ideology."
What does Wisconsin get when it crosses the recall of Governor Scott Walker with a Republican presidential primary? The serious answer: a massive infusion of Super PAC and other outside money into the state.
Most of the state has been focused on Walker's campaign to hold onto his job for the past several months, but in advance of Wisconsin’s April 5 presidential primary, Romney, Santorum, Paul and Gingrich are competing for a little bit of attention -- and for Wisconsin's 42 delegates.
Lost in the constant news about the recall of Governor Scott Walker is the fact that four Wisconsin Senators are facing recall as well. Today, political neophyte Lori Compas will declare her candidacy against Wisconsin's Senate Majority Leader, rounding out a slate of candidates who are attempting to wrest control of the Wisconsin State Senate away from Republicans.
On January 17, 2012 the recall petitions for four Wisconsin state senators were delivered to the Government Accountability Board (GAB) along with recall petitions for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The Senate recalls are targeting four Republicans; Senator Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).