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Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign 'Why we took on Wisconsin Club for Growth'

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 27 September 2016
in Wisconsin

walker-recallMADISON - On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed a formal complaint with the IRS against Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Here’s why: All we want is some modicum of justice. All we want is someone in authority, somewhere, to rule that the flagrant scheming by Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth was wrong and to hold them accountable.

Some background: Scott Walker’s campaign strategist, R. J. Johnson, was simultaneously running Wisconsin Club for Growth. Walker and Johnson turned Wisconsin Club for Growth into a funnel for huge, secret donations that they then used to finance ads to help keep Walker in office, Justice David Prosser on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Republican state senators in the majority.

This was not only a scheme to circumvent the Wisconsin campaign finance law that was on the books at the time, which imposed limits on donations, required disclosure of donors, and prohibited coordination between candidates (like Walker) and outside groups (like Wisconsin Club for Growth).

It was also a scheme that ran afoul of IRS regulations.

You see, Wisconsin Club for Growth is registered with the IRS as a (501)(4) “social welfare” organization.

According to an Aug. 9, 2016, notice by the IRS, “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”

But, as was made clear in the recent blockbuster article in The Guardian newspaper, “Because Scott Walker Asked,” the “primary activity” of Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 and 2012 was to engage in electioneering.

Our complaint also alleges that Wisconsin Club for Growth engaged in improper and deceptive fundraising practices.

In essence, Wisconsin Club for Growth was raising money not for itself and its own independent “social welfare” efforts, but for electioneering activity guided by Scott Walker and R. J. Johnson.

Walker personally met with millionaires and billionaires and directed them to give to Wisconsin Club for Growth.

It then sprinkled the money around. Wisconsin Club for Growth sent four checks totaling $2.5 million to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in April and May of 2012. It also sent four checks totaling $1,520,000 to Citizens for a Strong America in the first half of 2012. And it sent two checks totaling $550,000 to the American Federation for Children in May of 2012. These groups then used this money to run electioneering ads in accordance with the wishes of R. J. Johnson, acting on behalf of Scott Walker.

As Kate Doner, one of his fundraisers, wrote in an email on April 28, 2011: “As the Governor discussed with Mr. Pickens, he wants all the issue advocacy efforts to run thru one group to ensure correct messaging…. The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donor disclosure.”

R. J. Johnson was in charge of “correct messaging.” He even focused on the tiniest details. In an email on Sept. 5, 2012, from Johnson to his assistant Deb Jordahl, as well as to Scott Jensen of American Federation for Children, Johnson said of the American Federation for Children ad that was in the works: “I think the alternative in the middle part with no picture works well. Once we have a font resolution we can move.”

Walker clearly knew what was going on. He bragged about the role Johnson and the Wisconsin Club for Growth played. In an email to Karl Rove on May 4, 2011, Walker wrote: "Bottom Line: RJ helps keeps in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin.”

To date, the highest elected official in Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Club for Growth have been able to flout the law and get away with it.

They have the system rigged here because the conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are in their pocket and obediently threw out the John Doe II investigation into this matter back in July 2015.

Since we can’t get justice in Wisconsin, we’re going to try to get justice in Washington.

Last we looked, Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth don’t have the IRS in their pockets.

***

This article was first published by the Wisconsin State Journal. You can share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign in the News!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 23 September 2016
in Wisconsin

scott-walker-clapsWe decided to file a formal IRS complaint against Wisconsin Club for Growth, alleging it violated its nonprofit status, after reading the blockbuster revelations in The Guardian about Scott Walker and his flagrant coordination with the group.


MADISON - We’ve been in the news a lot this week!

The reason: After reading the blockbuster story in The Guardian about Scott Walker and his flagrant coordination with Wisconsin Club for Growth, we decided to file a formal IRS complaint against Wisconsin Club for Growth. We allege that it violated its nonprofit status in a couple ways, as you’ll see here:

wcfg WDC files complaint with IRS against Wisconsin Club for Growth

And speaking of that Guardian story, we summarized the essence of it here:

Walker’s laundry operation: Six takeaways from The Guardian story on Walker

One reason we’re looking to the IRS in Washington for some accountability is because there’s no accountability to be found here in Wisconsin, in part because of our corrupt Wisconsin Supreme Court. This week, we wrote about one of the justices who has been tainted by outside money:

Conflicted supreme court justice plans reelection

Lastly, our friends over at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin are looking for volunteers to help them monitor the November 8 elections. Their election observers will be on guard for any signs of people being disenfranchised. If you’d like to sign up to be trained as an election observer, just click here:

Take 2 minutes to sign up online.

Thanks for your interest in all our work and that of our allies.

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Kwik Trip’s Ties to Trump, Walker

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 20 August 2016
in Wisconsin

Kwik TripMADISON - When Donald Trump came to Wisconsin on Tuesday, we noticed that he went to a fundraiser sponsored by the owners of Kwik Trip. So we wondered who else those owners supported, right here in Wisconsin. Here’s the answer:

Kwik Trip owners boost Trump, Wisconsin GOP

brad_schimelAnother big story this week was the filing by Attorney General Brad Schimel, who urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to take the John Doe II appeal. His filing was, to say the least, galling:

Schimel has WMC dirt on his hands in John Doe II filing

We also posted two items on some of the consequences of the disastrous rewrite of the campaign finance law enacted last December. One story noted that the increase in donation limits allowed some of the richest people in Wisconsin to give even more than ever:

Higher contribution limits net $251K more for legislative, statewide officeholders

And the other one noted how the new law has made it harder to figure out who may be getting sweetheart deals from our elected officials:

New campaign finance reporting laws shroud, mock transparency

I hope you like this week’s offerings.

***

P.S. If you appreciate our dogged pursuit of the money trail, please send us a tax-deductible donation by clicking here or by mailing it to 203 S. Paterson St, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703.

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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "2 GOP Payoffs"

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 15 July 2016
in Wisconsin

follow-moneyMADISON - When we follow the money, sometimes something odd turns up.

That was the case with two of our stories this week.

The first seemed to be simply a gratuity for services rendered when the Republican Party of Wisconsin paid off $25,000 of Justice David Prosser’s campaign debt. But when we examined this “in-kind” contribution, it turned out to be even scuzzier, since the Party paid off a specific debt that Prosser owed to a particular vendor, who just happens to be one of Scott Walker’s chief fundraisers. Here are the gories:

State GOP pays $25K of Prosser’s campaign debt

The second story is about the DNR’s continued effort to give a sweetheart land deal to a couple that gave more than $6 million to try to get Scott Walker elected President. What’s doubly amazing is that the announcement of this renewed effort was obscured by an almost indecipherable bureaucratic notice. Somehow, I don’t think that was an accident, but see for yourself:

Walker’s DNR resurrects land deal with major contributor

And speaking of obscuring important information, this week there was a push in Congress to make it more difficult for consumers to find out if there are GMOs in our food—unless you’re in the habit of scanning barcodes into your phone while you hurry down the supermarket aisle. This is a bill not for consumers, but for industry, including in Wisconsin, as you’ll see here:

State food processors praise bill to restrict state food labeling

But here’s a happy note:

Three Koch Brothers’ groups were fined this week for illegal electioneering

We’ll keep following the money for you, and any more oddities that we can find.

***

P.S. Please send us a tax-deductible gift today to support our urgent work! Just click here.

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July 4: 10 Wins to Celebrate!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 28 June 2016
in Wisconsin

american-flagMADISON - For this July 4 holiday week, we’ve put together a special report for you on 10 wins for the good guys here in Wisconsin. Amid all the bad news that the Walker Wrecking Crew has brought us, it’s important to remember, and to celebrate, those times in the last year when We, the People, were able to stop Walker, Vos, Fitzgerald, and their big money backers from passing some disastrous bills or implementing retrograde policies.

So please take a gander:

10 wins to celebrate on July 4 in Wisconsin

Speaking of Walker, one of his biggest backers has been the NRA—a fact we shouldn’t forget in the wake of the Orlando massacre. And you can also see how much the NRA has given to your legislators by clicking here:

Walker’s NRA bankroll topped $3.5 million

The problem of big money and dark money is not confined to Walker and the Republicans. Late last week came the birth announcement of a new dark money group on the Democratic side, which will be operating here in Wisconsin. We don’t look kindly on this development, and you’ll see why here:

New dark money group for Dems is bad news

As we point out, Our elections should not be tug-of-wars between liberal billionaires on one side and conservative billionaires on the other. All of us citizens should have an equal voice in the electoral arena.”

I hope you agree.

Let’s declare our independence from big money and dark money.

Happy 4th of July!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director

P.S. Please support our urgent work to get money out of politics and to bring real democracy to Wisconsin and this country. Send us a tax-deductible gift today by clicking here or by mailing your check to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at 203 S. Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703.

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