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National Right-Wing Spin Machine Gears Up In Wisconsin

National Republican Donors, Apparatchiks, and Strategists Come to the Defense of Embattled Governor Scott Walker

by Mary Bottari

National Republican Donors, Apparatchiks, and Strategists Come to the Defense of Embattled Governor Scott Walker

Shadowy "issue ad" groups that do not disclose their funders as well as heavy hitter political action committees are rushing to the aid of embattled Wisconsin Senator Scott Walker, whose poll number are dropping like a rock.  The list of outside big money attacking Wisconsin state workers and teachers read like a "who's who" of the Republican donor and special interest group apparatus.

The Koch-Funded Group Americans for Prosperity: "Who Decides Wisconsin's Future?"

"Americans for Prosperity" is chaired by oil billionaire David Koch. It has two arms, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity that received over $10 million in financial contributions in 2009 (a nearly 50% increase over the preceding year), and Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4), that received over $16 million in financial contributions that year (a more than 100% increase over the year before). The tax forms for AFP and AFPF for their funding and expense during last year, a mid-term election year, are not yet available. The AFPs do not disclose their donors.  AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and climate (cap-and-trade) legislation. They launched a major ad campaign in Wisconsin shortly after news of the prank phone call between Governor Scott Walker and a fake David Koch made national news.

From the website: The $342,200 ad buy will run on network and cable channels across the state and is part of their Stand With Walker initiative, urging citizens to support the Governor’s "commonsense" plan for budget reform.

The Republican Governors Association:  "Stand with Scott Walker"

The Republican Governors Association (RGA), which "invested" $5 million in ads last year to help Walker win election, has launched ads urging people to "Stand with Scott Walker."  It is funded by billionaires like David Koch, who wrote the RGA a $1 million check last summer, and other wealthy CEOs like Rupert Murdoch and numerous big corporations.  It spent tens of millions of dollars on ads and other expenditures in the 2010 election year.  Its ad airing in Wisconsin now focuses on Walker's budget message and on attacking the Democratic Senators who broke the quorum on his bill. 

Club for Growth and Club for Growth Wisconsin

Founded in 1999, the Club for Growth (CFG) is a 501(c)(4) "civic league" that seeks to promote public policies it describes as "fiscally conservative." It does not reveal its donors.  In its 2009 tax filing, it reported income of $3.9 million and expenses of $4.1 million.  It reported that it was preparing to spend at least one million dollars on a TV ad campaign against the health care bill and that it gave almost a half million dollars to state and local groups fighting for its agenda.  The CFG Wisconsin was formed in 2004, and reported that in 2009 in received about a half million in funding (down from nearly 3.5 million during the presidential election year).  Notably, one of Walker's main consultants in his race for governor, RJ Johson, also previously served as a paid consultant to CFG Wisconsin (CFGW).  

From the CFGW website: Club for Growth Wisconsin is leading the paid media and grassroots effort to support Governor Scott Walker's budget repair and biennial budget bills. The Obama administration and national unions are running television and radio ads attacking the Governor and conservative legislators. Club for Growth needs your help countering the millions they have promised to spend.

The Karl Rove-advised Economic Freedom Alliance: "We Have the Power"

A group calling itself the "Economic Freedom Alliance" (EFA) is also weighing in.  The EFA is based in Chicago. It is a 527 organization with an anti-labor focus that has paid Karl Rove as a consultant. From Open Secrets, EFA's top funder is the Illinois and Indiana Manufacturers Association.

The ad takes clips from a speech a lawyer for the National Education Association gave some years ago and attempts to smear all unions and undermine worker rights.

From its website, the EFA: will not make contributions (directly or indirectly) to candidates for Federal office or make expenditures (directly or indirectly) in support of candidates for federal office.

The Republican National Committee: Stop Obama and His "Union Bosses" Today

The Republican National Committee is the main fundraising arm of the national Republican party.  As a political party, it discloses major contributors which have included Koch Industries and a long list of big businesses.

RNC spokespeople announced Wednesday that it would begin airing an ad in Wisconsin that it says "showcases the efforts by Democrats and government unions to obstruct Republican reforms to tackle the debt at all levels of government and move the country forward."

From the ads: "Families are struggling. State budgets have run dry. And the federal debt is skyrocketing," a narrator in the ad says. "But Obama and the union bosses are standing in the way of economic reform."

Dick Armey's FreedomWorks: "Some of the Most Protected Coddled Employees in the Country"

A similar message is being promoted by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks.  The "FreedomWorks Foundation" is a 501(c)(3) that received funding totalling over $4 million in 2009 and spent almost $1.5 on "federal and state campaigns" as well as almost a half million on grassroots mobilization (executing large and media scale rallies and other events) as part of its Tea Party related efforts.  "FreedomWorks, Inc." is its 501(c)(4) arm and it received about $3.6 million in funds and spent almost a million on "grassroots mobilization," about a half million on "federal and state campaigns" and about a quarter of a million dollars on media outreach (television, radio, editorials, blogging, and social media efforts). 

Freedom Works has produced an internet video and is making phone calls into the state.  FreedomWorks' video focuses on the Democratic senators who left the state to block Walker's controversial bill.  The video urges people to "Join The Fight."

The Dick Morris-affiliated League of American Voters: "Angry rhetoric, ugly threats, intimidation, even violence. That’s not the Wisconsin way."

The "League of American Voters" (LAV) has radio ads up.  Click here to listen to their radio ad.  It is also funding robo-calls in the state.  (LAV's 2009 tax filings are not on Guidestar; and financial contributions to LAV are not tax-deductible.)

From LAV's website: "Here's what the New York Times reported Saturday: "Some Republican leaders in other states have moderated their talk against state employee unions in recent days." This is why the League of American Voters efforts are so critical. The League is making a telephone call to hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens revealing that Gov. Walker's plan will dramatically improve education standards, by allowing incompetent teachers to be fired, giving good teachers merit pay and allowing parents the right to school choice.

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