A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money

Madison, Wisconsin -- A new investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy documents the big money funneled by one of the richest men in America and one of the richest corporations in the world to put controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in office.

The Republican Governors Association and the Kochs' Investment in Scott Walker

Walker was elected just over three months ago on the heels of an exceptionally expensive gubernatorial race in the Badger State, fueled by groups funded by the Koch brothers, David and Charles. David Koch, the son of a radical founding member of the John Birch Society, which has long been obsessed with claims about socialism and advocated the repeal of civil rights laws, personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in June of last year. This was the most he had ever personally given to that group. (Fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch matched Koch's donation to the RGA with a $1 million donation from his company News Corporation, parent company of FOX "News" Channel.)

Screen Shot of RGAs 5 million Investment in WalkerThe RGA in turn spent $5 million in the race, mostly on TV ads attacking Walker's political opponent, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. As this photo shows, the RGA described itself as a "key investor" in Walker's victory. In its congratulations, the RGA notes that it "ran a comprehensive campaign including TV and internet ads and direct mail. The series of ads were devastating to Tom Barrett ... All told, RGA ran 8 TV ads and sent 8 pieces of mail for absentee, early voting, and GOTV, totaling 2.9 million pieces."

The Center for Media and Democracy reported on some of the RGA's spin-filled ads last November, including the ads against Barrett, and filed a snapshot report this week. As the RGA takes credit, its multi-million dollar negative ad campaign probably did help make the difference between the 1.1 million votes cast for Walker against Barrett's 1 million votes. According to Open Secrets, Koch Industries was one of the top ten donors to the RGA in 2010, giving $1,050,450 to help with governors' races, like Walker's.

As Mother Jones has noted, the Koch Industries' political action committee, KochPAC, gave Walker's campaign $43,000 directly (according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board). It may seem like a small amount compared with the millions the Kochs are spending funding the RGA and other groups, but that donation was one of the larger individual donations to Walker not from an expressly-named partisan PAC. It is, however, a drop in the bucket compared with the impact of a million-dollar negative ad campaign, especially because the candidate promoted by the mud-slingers does not have to get his hands dirty.

The Kochs' Investment in Americans for Prosperity

The laundering of Koch dollars through the RGA dwarfs the Kochs' direct donations to Walker, and it also does not tell the whole story. As the Center for Media and Democracy has been documenting on its SourceWatch site for several years, David Koch was the founder and chairman of a front group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, which received at least $12 million from the Koch Family Foundations and which is the predecessor of the group Americans for Prosperity.

As Jane Mayer reported in the New Yorker, the Kochs do not deny funding Americans for Prosperity (the amount is not disclosed) but assert that they provide no funding "specifically to support the tea parties." "Specifically" is the key word in that sentence that does not deny what is known in the non-profit world as "general support," meaning general funding or endowments, for an organization's operations and overall mission. As Mayer noted, Peggy Venable -- who helps the Americans for Prosperity Foundation train Tea Party activists and "target elected officials" -- "said of the Kochs, 'They're certainly our people. David's the chairman of our board. I've certainly met with them, and I'm very appreciative of what they do.'"

Americans for Prosperity provided “Tea Party Talking Points” as the Tea Party was launched around tax day in 2009, and this weekend it is providing talking points to those coming to Madison for a pro-Walker protest it is helping to stage. Media watchers can expect to hear Americans for Prosperity protesters get equal time on the news, and more than equal time on FOX, using phrases to cloak union-busting as merely getting workers to accept "paying a fair share" through "modest but critical reforms" that end "strong-arming politicians for exorbitant benefits." The spin will also likely include a trumped up statistic claiming that private sector employees in Wisconsin earn 74 cents for every dollar paid to "overpaid" state union members--you know, teachers, firefighters, police, social workers, nurses, and other civil servants. An "unofficial" theme, a drumbeat of the Bircher baby propaganda efforts bankrolled by the Kochs, is calling opponents "socialists," a smear heard with increasing frequency as the Kochs' influence has expanded in the past two years.

Americans for Prosperity's Investment in Scott Walker

Notably, Americans for Prosperity bragged that it was going to spend nearly $50 million across the country in the November elections. As one of the groups exploiting the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision to allow unlimited spending by corporations to influence election outcomes, it does not disclose its donors and it does not report its expenditures on so-called "issue ads." It did run such ads in Wisconsin last fall.

Americans for Prosperity has actively supported and promoted Scott Walker in a variety of ways. It featured him at its tea party rally in Wisconsin in September 2009, when he was running for the Republican nomination for governor. Americans for Prosperity also ran millions of dollars in ads on a "spending crisis" (a crisis it did not run ads against when Republicans were spending the multi-billion dollar budget surplus into a multi-trillion dollar deficit), and it selected Wisconsin as one of the states for those ads in the months before the election. It also funded a "spending revolt" tour in Wisconsin last fall through its state "chapter."

Just how much money has Americans for Prosperity and its Wisconsin counterpart spent on issue ads or promoting Walker over the past two years is one of the questions for this weekend's orchestrated "Stand with Walker" event.

The Return on Investment?

Some things are known, though. Koch money helped get Scott Walker the governor's seat in Wisconsin. And now a major Koch-related group is spearheading the defense of Walker's radical plan to kill public employees' right to organize in Wisconsin. The question is whether an actual majority of Wisconsin citizens want two of the richest men in the world, who do not live here -- and who, as Lee Fang has pointed out, have eliminated jobs in this state -- to be playing such an influential role in the rights of working people here.

The Kochs assert that they do not "direct" the activities of Americans for Prosperity or the Tea Party. No, they just fuel them with their riches from the oil business they inherited from their daddy.

And they did not vote for Scott Walker in the traditional sense in a democracy. Rather, as the Republican Governors Association spells out, they "invested" in him.

What is the return desired for their investment? It looks like the first dividend Walker wants to pay, through the help of the Koch-subsidized cheerleaders from Americans for Prosperity, is a death knell for unions and the rights of workers to organize. But tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens have stood up this week to say this ROI will not be paid, that their rights will not be the price Walker exacts from them in return for the largess the Kochs have shown him as the anointed instrument of their agenda in this state.

Lisa Graves is Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PRWatch.org, SourceWatch.org, and BanksterUSA.org. She formerly served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, as Chief Counsel for Nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and as Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division of the U.S. Courts.

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is President of the Board of the Center for Media and Democracy and President of True North Research. She is a well-known researcher, writer, and public speaker. Her research and analysis have been cited by every major paper in the country and featured in critically acclaimed books and documentaries, including Ava Du Vernay’s award-winning film, “The 13th,” Bill Moyers’s “United States of ALEC,” and Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”



You people actually believe this stuff? Keep drinking the koolaid.

Yes thank you Lisa for your selfless effort to help build a better society and fuel public effort to restore democracy. I can't help but wonder about voters and what they must have been thinking to elect a republican governor. After 8 years of total pillage ending in financial disaster on a world wide scale how could anybody in their right mind vote in any republican for any office whatsoever? I know the anger Americans had watching the democrats do nothing good despite having a majority and a mandate. But I don't believe for a minute that voters are that stupid. Does Wisconsin have electronic voting machines? Is the software protected by proprietary rights upheld by the courts? Then the election results could have been easily manipulated without any possibility of anyone being able to prove it. That is how republicans are winning all around the U.S.A. It has been happening ever since Bush stole the presidency in 2000 and the Supreme Court backed up the theft. Bush went on to appoint how many judges? So, judges decide who wins elections, elected officials decide who sits on the bench. Where is the voter? I don't think there are any real elections any more, just a dog and pony show to keep the serfs fooled.

March 4, 2011 Turn the inspiring defense of Midwest workers into a national offensive against the profit vultures! In the state Capitol buildings and streets of the Midwest, unionists, other workers, and students are heroically resisting the attempt by politicians and employers to resolve the economic crisis at a deadly cost to working people. Protesters lit the flame in Wisconsin, where they have continuously occupied the Capitol since February 14 in a fight to preserve the bargaining rights of public workers. At times, teachers, firefighters, nurses, childcare workers, university students, and unemployed and private sector workers have swelled the number to 100,000. Teacher sick-outs have closed school districts in Madison and Milwaukee. The Wisconsin South Central Labor Federation has even announced they are considering a general strike! Volunteers, donations, and support statements are flooding in from all over the world - including Indiana and Ohio, whose workers are in the middle of their own similar battles. Solidarity rallies are blooming across the country. At stake: workers' rights and living standards for generations to come Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker boasted about the broad aims of his assault in a phone conversation with a caller pretending to be notorious libertarian billionaire David Koch. Walker declared that his goal is to emulate Ronald Reagan's destruction of the 11,000-member air traffic controllers' union, PATCO, in 1981. Walker wants to eliminate collective bargaining for benefits and working conditions, make paying union dues optional, force unions to be voted in again each year, increase employees' share of healthcare and pension costs, and cap negotiated wage increases at no higher than official inflation. His proposed bill would also privatize public utilities and give the governor sole authority to sell them - without competitive bidding. That would be music to the ears of Walker allies David and Charles Koch, energy industry capitalists and top funders of efforts to gut social services, resist government regulation, and slash taxes. Huge promoters of misinformation about climate change, the Koch brothers bankroll the Tea Party, the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and rightwing electoral candidates. Democratic legislators left Wisconsin in a bold move to forestall Walker's union-busting attack. The Democrats depend on unions as a crucial base of popular support, and they can't afford to see them destroyed. But this does not mean that Democratic politicians can be relied upon to halt the anti-worker tide. Like the Republicans, they refuse to lay the responsibility for the budget crisis where it belongs, at the door of corporate rip-off artists and warmongers. In states where Democrats dominate politically, they too are pushing hard for massive cuts in jobs, working conditions, and services. The program of austerity for workers is bipartisan. Workers need militant leadership and their own independent labor party In a terribly misguided attempt at compromise (which Walker soundly rejected), some Wisconsin union leaders offered to make concessions on pay and benefits in exchange for keeping the right to bargain collectively. But other union leaders and rank-and-filers are organizing for a policy of "no concessions," thanks to workers' increasing awareness of their own power. Nurses and others are discussing the need to reach out to nonunion workers, educate about the real corporate causes of budget gaps, and put forward an alternative budget that closes those gaps by taxing big business and the rich. It's no surprise that nurses are in the forefront of pointing out that Walker and his crowd are not just union-busters, but enemies of the poorest and most vulnerable. These include women, people of color, immigrants, the very old and the very young, and the sick and the homeless, who are suffering the most financially and who desperately need the safety nets that public workers provide. Labor's strongest weapon is the general strike. Now is the time to use it, not after Walker's bill passes. The labor movement can defeat his anti-humane legislation. But for the battles ahead - and to get off the defensive and fight to regain lost ground - workers need their own political party, completely independent of the Democrats and Republicans, a serious vehicle for running candidates on a program that advances thoroughly working-class solutions. The Wisconsin mobilization could be the opening act of a long-awaited resurgence of the U.S. labor movement. For that resurgence to take hold, the movement needs a powerful strategy and bold demands: -No concessions on pay, benefits or collective bargaining! Wage a general strike! -Increase taxes on corporations, close loopholes, and redirect war spending to human needs. -Demand job creation through a shorter workweek with no cut in pay and a public works program at union wages. -For a national union summit to plan strategy for protecting workers' rights and securing education, jobs, pensions, and healthcare for all. -For an independent workers' party - unbought and unbossed! Issued by: Freedom Socialist Party U.S. Section 4710 University Way NE, #100 Seattle, WA 98105 USA socialism.com

Daydreaming Kotch twins sitting in a tree, can you imagine Plutocracy? One summoned down for Scotty. Scotty lets crush the working people organizers without delay. You can boldly push a bill through in one day, you and fox friends have the peoples house, whale away. No one will fight it, I know its true, I have helped others do it before, so can you. We can lump it all up and jam it all through. Scotty, you owe me now too, we are the King Makers, thats what we do. But the Fab 14 heard about Scottys plan for no collective bargaining rights, they bumped heads, put on their walking shoes, and skipped over to Bear Park. Scotty was so mad, but he couldnt let it show, so he put on his sleepy peepers, and talked like in a trance. He kept his cool, but he threatened none the less, arrest those Fab 14 brats on sight, its a quorum I seek. But the extended long arm of the law could not stretch that far, and besides Bear Park has a sign that says BEAR WEAR OR YOU BE A SNACK. Now others heard too, about no collective bargaining rights, they scratched their heads and said OOO no he did not, that is not right. Others queued in and ears were perked up. The peoples house was now full of full throated chants and beating drums. The badged badgers dressed in blue, thank the Gipper, kept their cool. Scotty and fox friends looked on with distain and said O what a mess, what should we do? Its time to paddle up the uncharted river without a canoe. So they hatched a scheme in the darkness of night. Without peeping a word to any blue soul, they rammed the bill through. It just did not feel quite right. Shame, Shame, Shame echoed in the chamber heights. A battle was won for those on the right, the tea sipping elephants trumpeted you cannot have collective bargaining rights. The donkeys hee hawed but were not amused at this legislative SNAFU. They knew what to do, a recall was in order, so with clicks of a mouse and clipboard in hands, they started canvassing the corn and dairy land.

Thing is Republican, TEA Party, Conservative, Ring Wing Rhetoric goes against the precepts of the Constitution of the United States, the Doctrine that has enabled our Nation to become the Great Nation it is. Those ideas that are embraced in the Rhetoric are the concepts that are in fact tearing the Nation apart, creating a climate of decline, contributing to making America a Third World Nation with increasing levels of poverty, political and racial inspired incidents of violence, murder and mayhem. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Under the views held by today's Conservative, TEA Party, Republican, Right Wing Rhetoric this Preamble to the Constitution is defined as Socialist, Communist and Marxism. We the People is a collective society that sanctions, ordains the Constitution for the United States of America, not individuals nor the most powerful Private Sector Institutions. It is true that you work harder for your own goals but the Constitution and the Government are set up to work for the goals of the collective of United States Citizens. Charges of Communism, Marxism, Socialism are a subliminal call to arms for otherwise complacent Patriotic American types imbued with bigot, racist and/or cultural stereotypes. The very mention of either of those words blinds them to the major issues and crisis facing the United States.