Last week, CMD reported that a small GOP lobby shop tied to the Tea Party and David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group was awarded a $500,000 grant in a backdoor, sweetheart deal cooked up by ALEC leadership in the State Legislature and sanctioned by the Walker administration.
The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation was the only applicant for a newly-created grant to promote hunting, fishing, and trapping in the state, despite the organization having no record in outdoors training. The organization does have a record of lobbying on extreme gun measures, controversial mines, and other GOP priorities. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the grant was slipped into the budget bill by outgoing Majority Leader Scott Suder with terms that excluded most sporting groups in the state. The grant was not properly advertised, conveniently leaving United Sportsmen as the sole applicant.
CMD documented Suder's ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council and the extensive ties United Sportsmen staff had to the Kochs and the Tea Party, plus their history of partisan electoral politics in the state. Listed as "educators" on the grant were Americans for Prosperity's Luke Hilgemann, Sauk County Tea Party leader John Keegan, and Annette Olson, Americans for Prosperity "Activist of the Year" for 2012. CMD uncovered that the web domain for the group was registered by an Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin staffer named John Connors.
We sent out an alert prompting almost 1,000 Wisconsinites to quickly contact the committee. The United Sportsmen representative couldn't be bothered to show up at last week's committee hearing (joining by phone) and couldn't answer basic questions, prompting one committee member to say that the "whole deal just doesn't smell right." One Wisconsin Now uncovered a loophole in the bill regarding the group's tax status and later United Sportsmen apologized for misleading legislators into thinking it was a tax-exempt charity.
Thanks to these efforts and yours, Scott Walker is backing down and rescinding the grant, showing that even in the land of the shameless, the people can sometimes win.