Have you heard of the Wisconsin Prosperity Network?
Perhaps you have, just under their real name: the Republican Party of Wisconsin. As the Wisconsin State Journal reported, the Wisconsin Prosperity Network would create a plethora of right-wing organizations presumably hell-bent on getting back Republican majorities in the Wisconsin legislature, as well as a Republican in the governor’s mansion:
Arguing that Wisconsin’s conservatives are being outflanked by liberals, some of the state’s most prominent Republicans — including two who have run afoul of campaign finance law — are creating a new statewide political and policy infrastructure designed to produce wins at the ballot box.
Dubbed the Wisconsin Prosperity Network, the effort calls for an annual budget of $6.4 million and the creation of 14 new organizations, according to a draft outline of the network obtained by the State Journal.
The two Republicans who have run afoul of campaign finance law who will be leading the effort to get the Wisconsin Prosperity Network up and running are none other than Mark Block, president of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and former Assembly Speaker Scott “Scooter” Jensen, but the effort will also be supported by the same cast of characters that have been leading the Wisconsin Republican Party for years:
The project, to be rolled out over the next three years, has the support of some of the state’s most prominent conservatives, including James Klauser, a GOP power broker and top aide to former Gov. Tommy! Thompson; Bradley Foundation President Michael Grebe; and businessman Fred Luber.
According to the WSJ, Block said he is the main organizer of the network and that he is trying to raise money to fund it, and he also indicated Scott Jensen is playing a key role as well, as are others Block wouldn’t name.
The first of the fourteen right-wing organizations set up by the Wisconsin Prosperity Network is the MacIver Institute, which denied any ties to Scott Jensen despite evidence to the contrary. With this latest revelation that Scott Jensen is a key figure in the formation of the Wisconsin Prosperity Network, I’m beginning to wonder if Jensen had a more prominent role in the MacIver Institute than the folks there were willing to disclose. Then again, if I were a fledgling right-wing shell organization trying to raise bucks and identify “new” conservatives, I don’t know that I’d want someone who got a conviction for illegal use of state resources overturned on a technicality as the public face of my organization.
To be honest, Republicans here in Wisconsin can create four, fourteen, or fourteen thousand new right-wing think tanks, research organizations, and political action committees, but without a new message, those organizations don’t seem likely to gain traction – or new recruits to the conservative cause. The fact is, the Republican Party needs a new message, and what’s more, they sorely need new messengers, because even a new message delivered by the same old tired faces simply won’t resonate.