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.
No sooner was Democratic Senator John Lehman from Racine sworn in -- tipping the hotly contested Wisconsin Senate in favor of the Democrats 17-16 -- than a new spanner is thrown into the works. Democratic Senator Tim Cullen announced he was leaving the Democratic caucus to serve as an Independent.
Wisconsin state senator and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is perpetuating discredited allegations of "voter fraud" to argue that the state's unconstitutional voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win the state in the November elections.
Even after courts and law enforcement officials have declared that voter fraud is nonexistent in Wisconsin, Republican legislators continue perpetuating unfounded allegations of fraud, this time to call for purging the voter rolls. Meanwhile, another GOP legislator is claiming that promoting lawful registration is a blow to freedom -- at least when it involves registering Democratic constituencies.
Darlene Wink, former aide to Scott Walker during his term as Milwaukee County Executive and one of several individuals from that office facing charges in a secret "John Doe" investigation into criminal corruption and embezzlement, has had her sentencing hearing postponed for a second time to make sure she follows through on a promise to assist the District Attorney in other related John Doe prosecutions.
Law enforcement has found no evidence of "voter fraud" in the election that gave Wisconsin Democrats control of the state senate, despite right-wing media and legislators hyping the allegations to cast doubt on the only Wisconsin recall election won by a Democrat this year. The state elections board has also condemned "unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud" by Wisconsin Republican leaders.
This month, a former leader of the Internal Revenue Service filed a complaint that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has violated the terms of its nonprofit status by operating primarily for the private benefit of its corporate members, based on documents and research from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which manages PRWatch, ALECexposed, and SourceWatch. The complaint, which also alleges that ALEC misrepresented itself in tax filings, raises additional allegations beyond those in earlier IRS complaints filed by Common Cause.
By Brendan Fischer and Laura Stiegerwald
The evening after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Wisconsin chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity held a "Hands Off My Health Care" rally to plan next steps in their effort to defeat "Obamacare." The plan apparently involves American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation.
Though evidence suggests laws requiring photo ID at the polls will suppress votes from Democratic constituencies like students and people of color, voter ID supporters have long claimed the laws are merely a nonpartisan, common sense effort to promote "election integrity." But recent developments in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin show that Republicans are counting on voter ID laws to deliver the presidency to Mitt Romney in 2012.
It may not be uncommon to find fault with Politifact and its "Truth-O-Meter," (see update at bottom), but a recent rating by Politifact-Wisconsin was so far off we had to comment. The following letter was published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on June 23:
PolitiFact recently rated "false" a claim that the Koch brothers gave twice as much to Gov. Scott Walker as Tom Barrett raised. It is PolitiFact that deserves the "false" rating. In rating the claim "false," PolitiFact wrote, "There is no proof of how much Americans for Prosperity, which gets money from the Kochs but also other sources, spent on Walker's behalf."