“Because Scott Walker Asked”: how the right wing gave to Scott Walker’s campaign without giving to Scott Walker’s campaign

Eaerlier today The Guardian posted a comprehensive article outlining the depths of the efforts by conservatives to help reelect Gov. Scott Walker after it became clear Gov. Walker would face a recall election after he “dropped the bomb” on public employees via the infamous Act 10. While I encourage you all to take the time to read The Guardian article for yourselves, here are just a few snippets.

Scott Walker was under pressure. It was September 2011, and earlier that year the first-term governor had turned himself into the poster boy of hardline Republican politics by passing the notorious anti-union measure Act 10, stripping public sector unions of collective bargaining rights.

Now he was under attack himself, pursued by progressive groups who planned revenge by forcing him into a recall election. His job was on the line.

He asked his main fundraiser, Kate Doner, to write him a briefing note on how they could raise enough money to win the election. At 6.39am on a Wednesday, she fired off an email to Walker and his top advisers flagged “red”.

“Gentlemen,” she began. “Here are my quick thoughts on raising money for Walker’s possible recall efforts.”

Her advice was bold and to the point. “Corporations,” she said. “Go heavy after them to give.” She continued: “Take Koch’s money. Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now.”

Her advice must have hit a sweet spot, because money was soon pouring in from big corporations and mega-wealthy individuals from across the nation. A few months after the memo, Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate who Forbes estimates has a personal fortune of $26bn, was to wire a donation of $200,000 for the cause.

Adelson’s generosity, like that of most of the other major donors solicited by Walker and crew, was made out not to the governor’s own personal campaign committee but to a third-party group that did not have to disclose its donors. In the world of campaign finance, the group was known as a “dark money” organisation, as it was the recipient of a secret flow of funds that the public knew nothing about.

One of the checks made out to the group, for $10,000, came from a financier called G Frederick Kasten Jr. In the subject line of the check, Kasten had written in his own hand: “Because Scott Walker asked”.

Donations by conservatives to the Wisconsin Club for Growth following a visit to those conservatives by Gov. Walker is a common theme throughout The Guardian‘s report, which cites a meeting between Gov. Walker and John Menard followed shortly thereafter by a huge donation ($1 million) by Menard to the Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Another example of the pattern is the casual comment Walker dropped into an email to his fundraiser dated 14 June 2011: “Also, I got $1m from John Menard today”. Eight days later a check for $1m is cut on a corporate check of Menard Inc, the billionaire John Menard’s home improvement chain Menards, and made out not to the governor’s campaign committee but to Wisconsin Club for Growth. There the donation remained a secret until the publication of the Guardian’s leaked files.

And Gov. Walker seemed to understand exactly what he was doing when meeting with conservative donors.

The email trail shows a pattern of behavior developing: Walker meets up with big corporate donors and encourages them to contribute unlimited sums of money through WCfG in secret, then shortly after the checks start to flow. In June 2011, the emails show, the governor had dinner with the CEO of the largest privately owned trucking company in the US, Schneider National, in the hope of getting him and his peers to donate $250,000.

“Stress the donations to WiCFG are not disclosed and can accept Corporate donations without limits,” Walker’s talking points said.

In what seems to me to be the most damning example of “pay to play” politics, Harold Simmons, the owner of NL Industries, one of America’s leading producers of lead used in paint until lead paint was banned, donated $750,000 in secret to the Wisconsin Club for Growth at the height of the recall elections against Gov. Walker and a number of Republican State Senators. As the report notes, the Republican controlled State Senate passed (and Gov. Walker signed into law) changes to Wisconsin state law that attempted to grant retroactive legal immunity to lead manufacturers from any compensation claims for lead paint poisoning. NL stood to benefit financially from that immunity, likely to the tune of millions of dollars paid out to victims.

It’s worth noting that Harold Simmons was no stranger to campaign finance shenanigans, having been reprimanded by the Federal Election Commision for exceeding legal limits on campaign contributions, which is behavior Walker supporters here in Wisconsin have been convicted criminally of engaging in.

Simmons, who died a year after Walker won his recall election, was a prominent funder of rightwing causes who, along with Donald Trump, was reprimanded by the Federal Election Commission in the 1990s for exceeding legal limits of political campaign contributions. He bankrolled with $3m the notorious Swift Boat smear campaign against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election that erroneously questioned the current secretary of state’s Vietnam war record.

While the bought and paid for conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court may have ruled that Gov. Walker and groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth broke no campaign finance laws here in Wisconsin, the coordination that conservatives engaged in for the benefit of Gov. Walker and Republicans in the State Senate and Supreme Court certainly doesn’t pass the smell test.

Scott Walker proposes sales tax “holiday” gimmick

It’s never a good sign when your “fiscally responsible” Republican governor (and “fiscally responsible” I mean not fiscally responsible at all) proposes a sales tax “holiday” gimmick, presumably as a means of boosting the economy.

Sales tax holidays are common across the southern United States – 17 states from Texas to Virginia have them, with the majority of them falling around the time students return to school, according to a July report by the Tax Foundation. Only a few states in the northern half of the United States have them – Iowa, Ohio and Connecticut – though six more states have no sales tax at all.

The holidays are popular with many consumers for offering at least the promise of some relief around one of the major seasons for family spending. But the measures are also panned by policy experts for doing little to boost the economy.

The recent Tax Foundation report found that sales tax holidays do not promote jobs growth but instead merely shift the timing of consumer purchases and complicate the process of collecting taxes from stores. Some retailers may also raise prices during the holiday, reducing consumer savings, the report found.

As has been noted elsewhere, the sales tax “holiday” gimmick proposed by Gov. Walker is nothing more than a blatant attempt to pander for votes leading up to what is certain to be a reelection campaign.

Sign up to be a Donald Trump volunteer & you can’t EVER say a bad word about Trump FOREVER

Looks like the folks who are signing up to be volunteers for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have to agree to a lot of really bizarre conditions, among which is a clause that they agree to NEVER criticize Donald Trump, his family, or any of his companies FOREVER.

Sign up to volunteer for Donald Trump’s campaign, and you might be giving up more than you bargained for.

Earlier this week, reporters began poring over the 2,271-word nondisclosure agreement that Trump’s campaign requires its volunteers sign. The forms are extraordinarily broad, virtually prohibiting any volunteers from criticizing Trump or his family for the rest of their lifetimes, according to Rachel Sklar, a lawyer and CNN contributor.

On Twitter, Sklar noted that the forms also bar volunteers from criticizing Trump’s brands, disclosing anything personal about Trump (including his taxes), or from even employing people who work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. (That last one’s illegal, Sklar says.)

And via Twitter here’s just one of the many bizarre clauses of the non-disclosure agreement Trump volunteers have to agree to if they want to help elect Donald Trump.

Bruce Murphy’s Take On AG Schimel’s Hearing Loss:

Earlier this week I commented on Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s total tone deafness related to his Department of Justice investigation into the shooting death of Sylville Smith at the hands of the Milwaukee Police Department. I am not the only one feeling this way…witness today’s article by Bruce Murphy over at Urban Milwaukee:

Then there’s the fact the state investigation is using retired Milwaukee police officers in the Smith probe. The AG told the media he doesn’t see a conflict in using MPD officers: “Milwaukee PD has about 2,000 sworn officers as I understand. The likelihood that there would be some relationship between a particular patrol officer, who’s going to be much younger than an experienced detective… is small. And if there is any relationship at all, that officer, that investigator would not be permitted to have any role in the investigation.”

This is not the first time former Milwaukee officers were used in such a state investigation. They were also used in the 2014 investigation of Milwaukee officer Christopher Manney who shot and killed Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park.

At the time, Bies [Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay)] told Fox 6 he trusted the state agents to be impartial, but thought their ties to the Milwaukee department could make the public suspicious: “I would’ve thought that whoever made those assignments maybe would’ve considered those issues and… made a better decision and put a different investigator on.”

In short, perception matters. As it turned out, many in Milwaukee have never accepted the decision that determined Manney wasn’t criminally culpable and there have been periodic protests since then. But the stakes are far higher in the Smith killing, which touched off a near-riot. Whatever the decision that’s made, it’s critical that it looks as fair as possible, with no perception of favorable treatment.

But how “independent” does the investigation look when you have Milwaukee officers investigating a fellow member of the force? Under the circumstances, you have have to ask why Schimel hasn’t simply looked for other retired officers — whether from the Madison, Racine or any other city — to conduct the Smith probe.

But Mr. Murphy goes me one better…and it’s because they have been spending a lot of time following political contributions around the state. But if a perception of bias by the former MPD officers doing the investigation doesn’t bother AG Schimel, why would this:

But questions have arisen about Schimel’s links to Milwaukee police. For starters, he has been a frequent recipient of campaign donations from the Milwaukee Police Association. The police union gave him five donations of $500 between May 2014 and October 2015, as Gretchen Schuldt has reported for Wisconsin Justice Initiative.

What can possibly go wrong here?

Does Reince Priebus still think Donald Trump is a “net positive” for the Republican Party?

This piece is a year old, but I felt it was worth posting because I can’t help but wonder if RNC Chairman Reince Priebus thinks having Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee is a “net positive” for the Republican Party.

Still, Priebus said he thinks that having Trump in the 17-person race for the Republican presidential nomination has been a “net positive” in that it has brought interest to the process.

“I also think it’s an indicator that there’s a lot of folks out there that are just sick and tired of Washington,” Priebus said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha.” “I think Donald Trump has tapped into that. You look at the first debate we had, I think it was five or six times more viewers, in the beginning of August, than any debate in the history of either party.

“The key for us, of course, now is to tap into something that allows us to cross into a cultural barrier, which has been hard for our party.”

I’m betting Reince Priebus version 2016 recognizes now that Donald Trump’s presence atop the Republican Party’s presidential ticket is most definitely not a “net positive” for the Republican Party. After all, lots of smart folks think Donald Trump’s campaign is going to hasten the demise of the Republican Party as a serious national party.

Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel is Stone Cold Tone Deaf:

Per a recent state law, a third party agency must conduct the investigations of police involved shootings. Following the killing of a young man in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood by a member of the Milwaukee Police Department, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident. This shooting lead to the rioting and property destruction in Sherman Park on August 13th and 14th, 2016. And despite the fact that both the deceased and the police officer are African American, there is a lot of angst surrounding the incident and the follow up investigation.

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel is in charge to the Department of Justice and therefore the chief officer in the investigation. Needless to say there is distrust between the community and the police department and a lot of concern in Milwaukee on getting this thing right. So who is handling the case on behalf of the WI DOJ? Well apparently an number of DOJ investigators who are former Milwaukee police officers. Yup, that’s the ticket to instill confidence in the community that this investigation is being carefully and thoroughly examined. And I can’t think that there wouldn’t be enough non-MPD experienced investigators to handle this…even if it required some reassignments…but wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?

Well maybe not:

Wisconsin’s attorney general acknowledged Monday that former Milwaukee police officers, now working for the state Department of Justice, are investigating the fatal shooting of a black man by a Milwaukee officer that triggered two nights of violence.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said he doesn’t see a conflict in using former Milwaukee officers in the investigation into the Aug. 13 shooting of Sylville K. Smith.

“Milwaukee PD has about 2,000 sworn officers as I understand. The likelihood that there would be some relationship between a particular patrol officer, who’s going to be much younger than an experienced detective… is small. And if there is any relationship at all, that officer, that investigator would not be permitted to have any role in the investigation,” Schimel said at a news conference in downtown Milwaukee.

He said the DOJ hires many retired officers to work for the Division of Criminal Investigation in the region that they have previously worked. An agency spokesman later said DCI has about 100 officers statewide; of 18 field agents in the Milwaukee office, eight once worked for the Milwaukee Police Department.

It may in fact be possible for former Milwaukee police officers to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation.

But that doesn’t mean a damn thing…there are times when the appearance of possible bias is the determining factor in who performs the investigation. And in this case there shouldn’t be a single former member of MPD anywhere near this case.

WTF is AG Schimel thinking?

Russ Feingold campaign exposes right-wing activist attempting to infiltrate campaign

Boy, some conservatives sure are desperate….and dumb.

According to a report from the Huffington Post a woman believed to be conservative activist Allison Maass attempted to infiltrate the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold, who’s challenging incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson this year.

Despite her best efforts, Maass’ attempts to infiltrate Feingold’s campaign quickly fell apart.

The Feingold sting apparently fell apart thanks to profiling on the part of the campaign. The would-be infiltrator was blonde and drove a big white pickup truck, which staff said was part of the tipoff.

The woman, who identified herself as Allison Moss, told Feingold staffers that she had been active in College Democrats at the University of Minnesota and wanted to get involved in the campaign. She also signed a nondisclosure agreement with the campaign under the same name.

But after a Feingold staffer began pressing Moss on some of her past work, her backstory started unraveling. The staffer said someone on the campaign had gone to the University of Minnesota and remembered Moss as a member of the College Republicans. Moss denied being involved. They also asked her whether she worked for the right-wing group Campus Reform and whether she gave a false name on her nondisclosure agreement.

Moss initially denied charges of infiltration but eventually refused to answer questions altogether. In audio reviewed by The Huffington Post, she was nervous and evasive, giving answers that certainly aren’t typical of the usual enthusiastic political volunteer:

FEINGOLD CAMPAIGN: Can you tell us if you’re working for anyone in particular?

MOSS: I’m not really going to answer any questions.

FEINGOLD CAMPAIGN: Or whether you’re recording us?

MOSS: Not really going to answer any questions.

While I’m amused that conservatives are attempting to infiltrate Russ Feingold’s campaign, I’m not surprised, given how bad the polling looks for incumbent Republican Senator Ron “Sunspots” Johnson.

Donald Trump courts African-American votes in 94% white Washington County

Showing how absolutely tone-deaf he is when it comes to race issues, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave a speech Tuesday night in West Bend in which he courted the support of African-American voters who may have supported Democrats in the past.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went to the suburbs Tuesday night to talk about America’s inner cities, court African-American voters and lay out a plan to restore law and order in the country.

“I’m asking for the vote of every African-American citizen struggling in our country today who wants a different and much better future,” Trump said in Washington County, which has a black population of 1.2%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As the Journal Sentinel article notes, West Bend is located in Washington County, which has an African-American population of 1.2% and a white population topping 94%.

I know I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said before, but Donald Trump is a grade-A moron.

Has Robin Vos had a change of heart on “divide and conquer?” I doubt it.

In advance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s visit to Green Bay today, Republican Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos took to the Right Wisconsin to blast Trump for not endorsing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who’s facing a primary challenge for his seat in Congress.

Here’s just one snippet from Vos’ piece.

Politics is about addition and multiplication; not subtraction and division. As a party we need to do all that we can to unify

Of course, Robin Vos’ sudden desire for addition and multiplication versus subtraction and division is rich, given how supportive Vos has been of the “divide and conquer” strategy Gov. Scott Walker has used time and time again to screw Wisconsin’s public employees and middle class.

The fact that Robin Vos – who has used and directly benefited from a “divide and conquer” strategy – is now upset at the division and discord Donald Trump has sowed is both ridiculous and ironic, and I’m glad to see the Republican Party reaping what it has sown in the form of the hot mess that is Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.