Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC runs deceptive ad asserting Feingold support of Falk (UPDATED)

UPDATE: In response to this entry, the Wisconsin For Falk Twitter account popped off a tweet clarifying their group is not a super PAC. No doubt they’ll be taking up the issue with Sen. Russ Feingold’s Progressives United group, who has also referred to Wisconsin For Falk as a super PAC. According to its own website, Wisconsin For Falk is registered as a “1.91 organization” in reference to the Government Accountability Board (GAB) rule expressly permitting corporations (as well as labor organizations, tribes and other organizations) to sponsor independent expenditures in connection with elections in Wisconsin for state and local office.

The desperation of the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk and her SuperPAC allies continues.

Earlier this week I noted the shameful attempt on the part of the Falk campaign to assert that those who believe she can’t beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker feel that way because of Falk’s gender. At the time I wrote it was disappointing (not to mention cynical) that Kathleen Falk’s campaign would interject gender into the Democratic gubernatorial primary while asserting that sexism is the reason many doubt her electability, while in the process using gender and sexism to attack a fellow Democrat, in this case Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The use of Falk’s gender as a reason her campaign has not received a certain measure of support in some circles is the kind of incredibly divisive political ploy I’d expect to see from Gov. Walker (remember Walker’s “haves and have-nots?), and it does absolutely nothing to further the effort to recall Gov. Walker.

On the heels of the Falk campaign’s insertion of gender bias issues into the Democratic gubernatorial campaign comes a video put out by Wisconsin For Falk, a SuperPAC supporting Kathleen Falk’s gubernatorial bid. Wisconsin For Falk has spent millions of dollars propping up Falk’s gubernatorial campaign with TV ads, and yesterday the Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC released an ad (using heavily edited audio, of course) that makes the assertion that former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold supports Kathleen Falk for governor. The ad includes brief audio snippets of a much larger interview Sen. Feingold did on the “Sly in the Morning” radio show, without providing the complete context for Sen. Feingold’s remarks.

While there’s been no official statement from former Sen. Feingold on whether he approves of his comments being taken out of context and used to imply he supports Kathleen Falk’s gubernatorial campaign, I’m betting he’d be less than pleased that a SuperPAC has run an ad using his words and likeness, given his staunch opposition to the influence of SuperPACs in our elections. Back in March of this year, Cole Leystra of Sen. Feingold’s Progressives United attacked the Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC for undermining the recall effort here in Wisconsin, writing,

Regrettably, as well intentioned as Wisconsin for Falk no doubt is, the impact it will have on the recall election will almost certainly be to undermine, not bolster, the chances of successfully replacing Scott Walker as governor. By funneling out-of-state special interest money to support Kathleen Falk’s campaign, Wisconsin for Falk muddies what had been absolutely crystal clear waters in the recall effort. Up until now, the only beneficiary of ominous super PAC support was Governor Scott Walker. That can no longer be said, and because of that, Kathy Falk has been forced to cede what could have been a powerful strategic advantage, namely the complete rejection of support from dubious organizations that the American public overwhelmingly rejects. In fact, a recent poll found that nearly 70% of the public thought that super PACs ought to be outlawed.

Leystra went on to note that Democrats and progressive candidates are doing themselves no favors by adopting the preferred tactic of the Koch brothers through the use of SuperPACs that can raise vast sums of largely unregulated money to use as they see fit.

Wisconsin For Falk’s latest ad is shameful, and I’m betting Sen. Feingold will have something to say about how dishonestly his words have been used to imply his endorsement of Kathleen Falk, not to mention the fact that his words and likeness were used by a SuperPAC, the very kind of shadowy organization Sen. Feingold is fighting against through Progressives United.

(This has been cross-posted at Daily Kos.)


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24 thoughts on “Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC runs deceptive ad asserting Feingold support of Falk (UPDATED)

  1. I hope I see this same level of vitriol against Obama on Blogging Blue that I see against Falk. It seems like a personal mission here to undermine her campaign for all the same sins Obama has committed in his campaigns, just on a much grander scale and deeper hypocrisy than Falk could imagine.

    1. Paul, I’m opposed to SuperPACs whether they’re for Republicans or Democrats, and my disappointment in President Obama for starting his own SuperPAC is deep (and will be blogged about).

  2. Very disgraceful, and unacceptably cynical. Maybe you can pull this garbage over on idiot Republicans, but we tend to see through crap like this and use RESEARCH. I knew this ad buy had ‘backfire’ written all over it, just like her Super PAC’S last try in March.

    And Feingold said in the same interview that he supported Barrett along with Falk, and Barrett hasn’t done anything sleazy like the Falk for Wisconsin/Wisconsin for Falk two-step to destroy his good standing with Russ.

    Starting to believe that Vinehout really will finish second

    1. It’s just laughable that people actually think one campaign has a responsibility to broadcast nice comments said about their opponents. This is the silliest made up rule I’ve ever seen.

      And there are a LOT of made up rules coming out of the Barrett campaign. Like Obey saying there should be no criticism (of Barrett) during the campaign.

      The Barrett camp is outraged that we won’t just all quietly and mutely line up along the streets for his coronation.

  3. There was a time when I cared what Feingold thought…no longer. Ed Schultz nailed it on his show last night. He said, “The stakes are high for Wisconsin and for this country because this is a template to defeat Citizen’s United.” And where is Mr. Feingold when that’s what he supposedly is all about…sitting it out.

  4. Ouch. Ouch. And Ouch.

    Paul – I didn’t read anything vitriolic in this post about Kathleen Falk nor do any of the other posts criticizing Falk seem caustic. They appear legitimately critical and not sensationalized. Perhaps more analysis of Barrett’s campaign would be helpful? I’d like to learn more about his support of the Taconite Mine; I’ve yet to research that claim. That would be deeply disturbing if it were so.

    On Feingold: There seems to be a grudge emerging against him for not entering the race. I get where Schultz is coming from; it’s an historic race. But really, successfully managing Progressives United is a much more important goal than running for governor.

    Triggering the recall effort was momentous; there’s no doubt about it. But, for reasons that must now seem painfully clear (i.e. this divisive slugfest of a primary), somehow that effort did not coalesce into a clearly articulated blueprint for change. I think that is a matter deserving of a good bit of discussion – and soon.

    1. I think you read a different post. This is caustic and vitriol. Add: whiney. See the “desperation” part.

      Then there is also the complaint of using a positive thing Feingold said about Falk. The writer never bothers to say what “context” is missing. It’s not like he said “but she is bad” at the end. Did you want them to rebroadcast the whole interview? Broadcast anything nice he said about other candidates? That’s silly.

      If this is the Barrett camp once again making up campaign rules and then crying foul, that is some weak tea. It won’t work against Walker. Here are the previous ploys from Barrett and his supporters:

      * Everybody should have waited until the last minute to start campaigning, like Tom Barrett. It’s wrong for them to get in early and campaign hard.

      * It’s wrong for a woman to mention her gender. Tom Barrett doesn’t mention his gender. Nor is it fair fighting back against the War on Women. Barrett wants to end the fighting, so he doesn’t fight.

      * There’s some more but I need more coffee!

      We have a new rule now: Campaigns and their supporters can’t circulate positive things someone said about them on the public broadcast spectrum.

      Really, why do you bother making these arguments?

  5. PJ
    Not when the whole nation and part of the world are watching. Instead of managing Progressives United, he could be sending a huge message and accomplish the whole goal of P.U.

    1. Perhaps we might agree to differ on how overturning united may be accomplished. It’s a tremendous logistical effort that will take years in the doing. Feingold winning a campaign entirely without the smear of special interest money tied to it would be highly symbolic, but I question how much more of an impact it would make versus the concerted effort of building strong foundational support for dismantling Citizens United.

      Yes, most of the world is watching. Precisely the reason the lion’s share of criticism should go to the Democratic establishment. This was their moment to reorganize themselves in order to put forth a bold, progressive plan that could be used as a national template. This was the moment to put forth the positive contrast to the conservative agenda. Despite similar conservative legislation sweeping the states nationwide, Scott Walker is the lightning rod for the Tea Party 40 year conversion dream. He’s only one man, but he has a well-oiled, well-funded ideological machine propelling him forward.

      Which one man or which one woman challenging him embodies a movement with core values as easily apprehended as “free markets, constitutionally limited government, and fiscal responsibility?” None. First, The Tea Party isn’t a grass roots movement, and Walker’s support network can hardly be described as grassroots. Second, as I’ve argued on other threads, the left has yet to codify its core values in the same way the right has done. If there were ever a moment to do that, it would seem to be here and now. And it would seem to me that the Democratic Party would have been the outfit to do it.

      I’m not suggesting that the effort would have been at all easy. But when not only Wisconsin, but most of the world recognizes this as a defining moment and no attempt at all? No, I can’t fault Russ Feingold. He’s filling a leadership role by establishing Progressives United. The Democratic Establishment would have been wise to follow his lead.

  6. After the Uprising and it’s massive grassroots effort the Blue Dog apparatchicks were afraid that they would lose control of the Democratic Party. Thus the entry of Rahm Emmanuel into the fray as a proxy for Obama and the corporate centrists, to ensure that Democracy doesn’t get out of control.

    All the feigned indignation about who gets money from whom is very amusing. One unforseen result of the Republican gerrymandering has been the creation of some districts so heavily Democratic that it should be possible to start weeding out Blue Dogs in the primaries or in some cases even winning with a candidate under a Labor Party banner. Then we’ll find out if the Democratic Party is really concerned about workers and the middle class or whether it is all a show just to attain office and advance careers.

    By the way, Barrett’s blather about bringing us together again with the people who have been kicking us in the teeth is long past it’s sell-by date. If that’s his campaign theme were f’d.

  7. Gareth, were you so concerned when the Obama administration intervened in our Dem race for governor in 2010?

    Were you so concerned when Obama “blathered about brining us together again” with Republicans?

    Uh huh. I didn’t think so.

    Or you are no Dem and just clogging these blogs with your anti-Barrett blather.

  8. Milwaukeean- I’m an independent who typically votes for the Democrats because the Republicans have turned into fascists. But I will never be a member of the party because I still have scars from the knives that nice liberal Democrats shoved in my back when I openly opposed the Vietnam war while Lyndon Johnson was still President. The Democrats were even quicker to slander me then than the Republicans. It was kind of a mind-blower but very enlightening. I see that type of Democrat still infests the party and thank you for demonstrating that fact. I will choose to ignore your existence and vote for the winner of the Democratic primary anyway.

    As far as Obama does I don’t know WTF you are ranting about.

  9. Gareth, you were the one who brought Obama’s actions into this thread. Nice attempt at deflection, that, and now you won’t even own it?

    By the way, I’m also a longtime former Democrat who also is an Independent now, because of behaviors in 2008 that I now see again. It is remarkably freeing to no longer be in lockstep for a party that allowed that campaign’s worst excesses, so it took me longer to see what you witnessed when I only began to vote. And so I owe you an apology for unnecessary snark, as I am letting that campaign’s hurt rile me again.

    But I also will oppose Walker for his extremism. And for me, all politicians and both parties ought to be on full warning that we are fed up. Walker is the worst, but too many on both sides are little better.

    You believe the better choice is one, I believe the better choice is another — but we will come together for the June election.

  10. Desperation is the right word. Wisconsin for Falk has poured $4 million plus down the rathole for her. These are the folks formerly known as We are Wisconsin. They folded one right into the other (according to my WAW contact, who called me the other day to tout Falk – even she was embarrased).

    My union president invited us all down to the labor temple to make calls for “the recall”. I said, “Exactly what are we going to be doing?”. Why, encouraging members to vote for Kathleen Falk, said he. If we lose the June election because of these f*ckers, heads are going to roll in these labor organizations.

  11. Wow this piece drips with vitriol and distortions. Did the Wisconsin for Falk piece say Feingold endorsed her? No. It simply aired a nice statement about her. WHERE IN THE AD DOES IT SAY FEINGOLD ENDORSED HER? It does not.

    This is a “straw man” argument.

    There is no reason for outrage here. Unless you’re oturaged someone would say some very nice things about Kathleen Falk.

    And the earlier piece is silly, as well. You made this up: “the Falk campaign’s assertion that hers isn’t a campaign of political insiders or elected officials”

    They didn’t say that. They emphasize their campaign’s strengths: it’s a coalition of the grassroots forces: labor, environmental, women and educators. You made up that strawman quote. Yeesh

    1. Andy, where in the original piece did I write that the Wisconsin For Falk ad say that Feingold endorsed her?

      In fact, here’s the title of the piece, “Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC runs deceptive ad asserting Feingold support of Falk (UPDATED)” Notice the use of the word “asserting?”

      What’s more, in the piece itself I wrote, “yesterday the Wisconsin For Falk SuperPAC released an ad (using heavily edited audio, of course) that makes the assertion that former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold supports Kathleen Falk for governor.”

      Notice my use of the word assert? What’s more, I never once used the word endorsed in the piece, I used the word “support.”

      As for your comment about my earlier piece, I’d advise you to go take a look again. At the bottom of my piece I included a screen capture of the exact email I got from the Falk campaign that says, and I quote, “Ours isn’t a campaign of political insiders or elected officials.” That’s a direct contradiction to your comment here, and I’d ask that if you’re going to come here and attack what I’ve written, at least have your facts straight.

      Thanks, and have a great Sunday!

      1. Yeah, I should have held off until my second cup of coffee. You said “support” not “endorsed.” The point still stands: so what? Your use of the word “assertion” is the straw in the strawman. Russ said something nice about Kathleen and they highlighted that nice statement.

        So now we have a new campaign rule: Campaigns (not by Barrett anyway) should not point out when someone says something nice about candidates.

        As far as your other fauxrage, it’s just silly and, ironically, taken out of context!! Ha!

        Here is a rebuttal to these silly arguments, where I learned of these posts:


        1. Andy, you know as well as I do what Wisconsin For Falk is trying to do….they want it to seem like Kathleen Falk is the preferred candidate of Russ Feingold.

          At any rate, don’t blame your lack of coffee; instead blame your bias.

  12. I can’t wait to see what new rules the Barrett campaign invents this week.

    This making up of rules is a very weak campaign tactic, basically it’s whining. How will the whining ploy work against Walker, do you think?

    1. Andy, who’s making up rules?

      Don’t you find a certain amount of irony in the Falk campaign saying it’s not a campaign of political insiders despite being full of political insiders?

      Further, what does the Barrett campaign have to do with any of this?

  13. “…what does the Barrett campaign have to do with any of this?”

    That’s exactly what I’ve been wondering while reading all of this!

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