A Profound Disconnect

As noted by long time Blogging Blue commenter CJ McD, Mike Tate wasn’t the only DPW official raising money while rank and file union members were protesting right to work at the Capitol building in Madison.

Nation Consulting Senior Associate Jason Rae, a candidate for DPW Chair, held a fundraiser at the Hotel Metro in Milwaukee from 5-7 PM, just about the time that debate was probably really heating up on the Senate floor in Madison some 80 miles to the west. God almighty, wouldn’t you think that a senior associate in a consulting firm that routinely handles political campaigns would, at the very least, consider the optics?

Can you think of a more vivid, clear cut example of the profound disconnect within the Democratic Party of Wisconsin? Working class Wisconsinites fighting to salvage their union, their wages and their dignity in the Senate chambers while the pin stripe suits sip cocktails, chat, and write checks to the man they think should be the next DPW Chair.

No wonder we’re losing at every turn.


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48 thoughts on “A Profound Disconnect

  1. Steve, you have summed it up very well. Add to this the fact that for years Tate was sending money over to nation consulting and in essence paying Rae’s salary. This ‘group’ has put together a party that works very well for them but it certainly doesn’t work for anyone who pays dues to the DPW. Why doesn’t Rae have to step down as chairman of the constitution committee, the DNC, and member of the Administrative Committee?
    To me it is an obvious conflict of interest for Rae to hold these positions while he competes with others for the Chairmanship. Mike Tate should also step down as Chairman and let the 1st Vice Chair finish his term. The close relationship between Tate and Rae will taint the convention and give Rae the advantage in the race.

    1. Steve, I am repeating what other people have said. In fact, at one point I think Tate said that he sent money their way but that it wasn’t very much. We will never know for sure since they will not open the books and by law do not have to. The Administrative Committee does what Tate tells them to do. He asked for a raise after loosing everything and they bumped his salary to $122,000. They say he is worth it but it doesn’t square with me. Where did the $40 million that he raised go? He didn’t give hardly anything to people running in state races.

      1. Although a life long Dem, I’m only completing my second year as a member of DPW.

        I am a former CFO, Cost manager, accountant, auditor, and upon my retirement was asked to stay on as what I call a “trouble shooter” for our three manufacturing plants, but declined.

        Based upon my past experience, your and other disclosures and my several attempts to communicate with DPW, I find it troubling or to use an old adage, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Update to “…of Wisconsin.”

      2. All one needs to do to verify what the party paid Nation Consulting is to go check CFIS!

        Come on people – are we the tech savvy Democrats who believe in and take advantage of transparent election reporting or not?

        1. Go to: cfis.wi.gov
        2. Click “View Expenses” on the left menu
        3. Click Continue
        4. Enter “Nation Consulting” in the top right under “Payee Name”
        5. Choose your Filing Period OR put that drop down to the blank space at the top and use the date range on the left side.
        6. Profit? Gain knowledge? Stop just repeating things and start actually doing the research? (I know, for some of us that last one will be a tough sell…)

        These fact-adjacent discussions are exactly why I’m already sick of this whole DPW chair’s race. For a bunch of Democrats, we’re acting like feeble minded whiners who cherry pick the facts or repeat something just because it fits our narrative.

        1. Thank you for the needed instruction. As an independent I did over a hundred hours of database upgrades to the VAN to support the Democratic Party recall efforts and now I cannot get any access to it.

          A party that cannot instruct its membership or non-member supporters about just the item you mentioned has decided failure is more important than success.

      3. Joe, I’m not interested in furthering unsubstantiated rumors. I’ve checked CFIS to see just how much money the DPW has directly paid to Nation Consulting over the past year, and the amount that has been paid by the DPW to Nation Consulting is nowhere near enough to pay Jason Rae’s salary.

        Spreading lies isn’t cool, and I’m not going to sit idly by while folks spread lies simply to further their own agendas.

    2. CFIS is the best way to confirm what Joe’s saying, but I’ve reviewed CFIS, and unless I’m missing something there isn’t much truth to what Joe’s alleging.

      Further, I’d just note that anyone who’s shocked that the DPW may have paid Nation Consulting for work needs to get a grip on reality. The fact is, Nation Consulting does a lot of work for the Democratic Party here in Wisconsin, just like they do a lot of work for Democratic candidates. Perhaps that speaks to the reputation and record Nation Consulting has, rather than being a product of a sinister plot to line their pockets.

      If any of you want to criticize Jason Rae, the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin, or even Nation Consulting, at least do so from a position of truth and fact, rather than casting aspersions and dealing in rumor. That’s not cool, nor is it acceptable or appropriate.

  2. The reason the Dems are “losing at every turn” is because the Unions are insisting on conscription instead of offering better personal reasons to participate. All the long term benefits, while compelling to us old timers, seldom fly with a young person trying to raise a family and just learning a trade.

    1. Your first sentence says you are simply going to bed with the Senate majority, that you agree entirely with them on this. Nobody is being conscripted into unions right now. Workers are not forced to join, yet are still able to get the benefits of unionization, in several forms, right now and you call that conscription?

    2. We are reminded by one 2011 study in the link below that all worker’ wages in RTW states are 3.2% lower than those without. Translated into annual wages, there is a $1500 decline in RTW states. It also suggests that the unemployment rate in higher in RTW states.

      See Economic Policy at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

      Other studies suggest there is no significant effect between RTW and non-RTW states or that there are other influencing or mitigating factors to explain the differences in average wages.


      1. Duane 12,The Republicans are winning the argument over RTW because they came out early saying this is about worker freedom and no one should be forced to join a union. They never go off message or answer any challengers questions. They say the same thing over and over no matter how foolish they may sound. It’s like a jingle you hear on TV and can’t get out of your head. What you are saying is so true it upsets most of us but not the person who is working 2 jobs. All they know is they want the freedom to join or not join a union. They don’t realize they already have that ‘right’. They don’t know the Republicans are lying and misrepresenting the issue. As a result they vote for the Republicans even when they pass laws which will reduce workers’ pay. This is what we are up against.

        1. Joe, you are correct; constant repetition of an exaggeration, distortion, or untruth is right out of the playbook of the great dictators, past and present, to justify their unjust or immoral actions.

          A partial solution is to expose or rebut their statements in the local press with a letter to the editor which I do almost monthly. I try not to be defensive or seen as expressing an opinion, but to provide facts and sources. Their BS on TV needs more and better rebuttals by state and national Dem organizations.

          Unfortunately, blogs usually don’t get down to the masses unless we pass on the message orally, to friends, neighbors, family.

  3. Recalling a the few entries at Rae’s FB page, seems that the “event,” he was holding had been cancelled once from an earlier date, probably, (guessing here) he needed the 35 confirmed attendees to cover the venue costs. Not defending him at all, the timing could not have been worse for the,”optics,” of his event and hotel reservations have a certain schedule cancellation notice period or you get charged for the venue regardless of whether you actually hold it or not. I didn’t predict how fast the Senate was moving as of two weeks ago.

    Brings me to an even larger point AGAINST Rae. Instead of having to fund your own event to make it appear you are in demand by some organization, you might start out by accepting invitations from groups that for other clear reasons (like past performance or party or small “d” policy accomplishments) might INVITE you to come and speak to them. Creating your own gimicky marketing event with other peoples’ funds is pretty scuzzy from any angle.

    1. non, to your point about being invited, Jason Rae and two other DPW Chair candidates (Jeff Smith and Joe Wineke) were invited and did speak at an event together last weekend. I’m not going to fault Jason Rae for treating this race somewhat like a political campaign, because that’s kind of what it is. Jason’s trying to win over delegates, just as Joe and Jeff and Mary Lang Sollinger are, and he’s chosen to take a very proactive approach to spreading his message and winning over those who will be casting votes for the next DPW Chair.

      1. Zach, what concerns me is that Jason Rae is holding fundraisers for a race for DPW chair, where there’s no campaign finance reporting requirements whatsoever and the only legitimate expenses that a candidate would incur are travel-related expenses (gasoline, etc.), lodging at or near the convention site (since the convention is being held in Rae’s hometown, this probably isn’t an issue for him, although it’s more of an issue for someone like Jeff Smith, since he’s from a region of Wisconsin that’s over 200 miles from the convention site), and any expenses related to keeping a campaign website online. To be honest with you, I’m concerned that Rae may be handing out bribes to delegates, and there’s no real way to prove whether or not he’s doing that outside of someone confessing about it.

        Also, regarding Rae’s ties to Nation Consulting, I’m concerned about an apparent revolving door between the DPW and Nation Consulting and, more importantly, the perception that the DPW is too consultant and political operative-oriented.

        1. Aaron, I’m going to preface my comments by saying that I don’t have a preferred candidate in this race.

          Having said that, your allegation about Jason Rae handing out bribes is absolutely ludicrous. I know Jason Rae, and what you’re suggesting would be completely out of character for him. Look, criticizing him for being a part of the DPW’s consultant class is one thing, but suggesting that he’d resort to handing out bribes to win votes is out of bounds.

          In fact, at a candidate event last weekend, each of the candidates in attendance (Joe Wineke, Jeff Smith, and Jason Rae) talked about putting some of their own money into the DPW race to cover the costs associated with travel, website, mailers, etc. Curiously, I haven’t seen you accuse Wineke and/or Smith of handing out bribes.

          Unless you’ve got some evidence to back up your claim, just stop, because these kinds of wild rumors do nothing to further the dialogue about who should be the next DPW Chair.

  4. nonquixote-
    If you take a look at Jason Rae’s FB page, has traveled to Brown, Fond du Lac, Sheboyga, Jefferson, Dane, Milwaukee countiesand a few more locations like Shorewood.

    He aslo posted this on his FB page but oddly no photo with this one.
    “Jason Rae for DPW Chair
    February 25 at 3:42pm · Proud to have been in Madison today to stand with my brothers and sisters in labor fighting this so-called Right to Work legislation.”

    IAnd there’s lot of this: “t was so amazing to see the support in the room to regroup, refocus, and reenergize the State Party tonight at my campaign kick off. Thank you to our hosts, sponsors, and many friends that attended tonight!”

    His brand- Regroup, refocus, reenergize. Building the bench.

    I think we all understand as a senior associate with Nation Consulting, this is their “best of the best” branding. Consulting and polling firms get paid a LOT of money for the services they provide. Not just Nation. All of them.

    More rearrange, refluff and regurgitate. Recycle, rehash, replicate.

    BTW- Guess who showed up at the CPAC2015? “Democrat” Sheriff David Clarke. Scroll down, you’ll see him in a photo op with https://twitter.com/stacyontheright

  5. I’m very interested to see what the DPW says/does regarding Sheriff Clarke. (And Chris Abele for that matter.)

    What does it take to have someone censured or have their affiliation pulled from the DPW? Or is it really all about the money?

  6. I wonder how much cash gets dolled out to consultants and pollsters? I’ve seen an email that has Mike Tate bragging about raising 18 million bucks, but only giving candidates 50k. No joke. Where is the money? I know of only 2 candidates who are running for chair who want to investigate and do a full audit of the DPW books.

  7. The DPW has already disowned Clark and endorsed his opponents. There is nothing the party can do to stop anyone from claiming party affiliation when they put their name on the ballot. It’s part of the open primary process that Wisconsin is so proud of. The people get to choose their candidates, not the party.

    Now, back to the subject at hand – I agree it looks bad to raise money on the backs of protesters. It could have been managed better. Still, the show has to go on. Elections don’t wait for the protests to end. I think if the DPW stopped raising money this week, the complaints about incompetence would still be flying. The party has it’s problems, no doubt. But we have five candidates (at this moment) all capable of reform in their own way. Stay involved or get involved, learn about them, and do what you need to in order to vote at the convention in June. You won’t make much difference sitting outside the tent lobbing snowballs.

  8. D.N. Messer, I checked the website and came up empty. I followed your instructions but could not find any records for any expenditures for the Democratic Party of Wis. to anybody. What did you find?

    1. Same for me upon trying this morning. A lot of payments to Nation through various campaign committees, but nothing from DPW. If I can’t figure this out (I’m fairly tech savvy), how would the average working class Dem or county chair do it?

      1. Actually, looking at DPW expenditures for 2014, you start to see some pretty large expenses paid out to various groups if you sort “Expense Amount” from top to bottom.

  9. Joe Kallas,

    The records are there.
    1. Plug Nation Consulting into the “Payee Name” on the right hand side.
    2. In the “Fitting Period” slot, select “All periods”
    3. In the “Amount Range($)” type in “0” to whatever dollar range you want. (I plugged in 50,000,000)
    4. In “Filing Year” select the year you want to search in.
    5. Leave the rest of the category slots blank
    6. Click on “Search”

    Wait a second or two and the full filing for that year will come up.

    If you have trouble let me know. I’ll try to explain further.

    1. Thanks for posting this explanation. There’s literally a wealth of information to be found in CFIS; it’s one of my favorite tools for seeing what candidates and organizations are spending their money on.

  10. MaseMan-

    The way it was explained to me by some Milwaukee Dem insiders was that the DPW does not pay Nation Consulting for candidates. They can direct or steer a candidate toward Nation but the candidate’s campaign makes payments to Nation for services provided, not DPW.

    Which makes me wonder even more what the DPW does with the funding they recieve from members, donations and the funds given them from the DNC.

    1. Thanks. That is what the records seem to indicate…lots of payments from the Burke campaign and others to Nation Consulting, but nothing directly from DPW.

      So that begs the question: Where did all the money go?

  11. Zach-

    I think we all understand about salaries, overhead, postage, IT work, Red to Blue development programs, etc. That still leaves the question of where the rest of the money goes/went. I live in the 18th district. When Jessica King was running against Gudex she literally begged the DPW for help. They sent over a part time staffer part way through She lost by 200 votes. When Bernie Witwer ran in his district, the DPW planted a candidate because they didn’t feel Bernie had ‘the right stuff”. Same with Jeff Smith. Kathleem Vinehout, the hardest working senator in our state didn’t get any help from the DPW either. C;early the DPW could do better. There’s been a LOT of talk among the rank & file membership about requesting a 3rd party audit.

    So it does beg the question. Where the flip is all that money going? It can’t all be attributed to salaries, overhead, operations. If it is, there’s not much to show for it.

    On top of all that, it would have been nice to see Mike Tate, after he sent out his email to request funds to help fight RTW on the day of the hearing during the 11:24 mark of testimony, to put on a winter coat and walk across the street to join fellow Democrats in solidarity or register to testify before the committee.

  12. CJ McD, I tried to find out how much the DPW gave to the Burke campaign. Punched in all the info and the program said there are no records. Does that mean the DPW didn’t give Burke any money? That’s real hard to believe and like you have said, where then did the money go?

    1. Joe- the CFIS data are a little inconsistent and hard to work with. Best to leave as many search fields blank as possible. Note that “Filing Period Name” defaults to “Spring Pre-Primary 2015”; you have to change it to “All Filing Periods.” Also, there are several Registrant/Payees that could be DPW, and if you pick the wrong one you won’t get any data. Looks like for 2014 DPW was # 0300054.

      Try just selecting Democratic Party of Wis #0300054 and a date range, and make sure all other fields are blank. Then download to Excel, and do a Ctrl+F search for Burke or whoever you’re looking for.

      Looks to me like DPW gave $571k directly to the Burke campaign, and another $775k in in-kind contributions.

      DPW also paid $5,400 on 7/1/14 to “Joseph.” Was that you? 😉

      1. Zach, I don’t have a problem with how much money any of the candidates spend trying to get elected. What bothers me is Jason is a member of the DNC, the state constitution committee and administrative committee and should step down from these positions to run for state chair. In my opinion, his continued involvement in these committees gives him an unfair advantage in the race and is an obvious conflict of interest.

      2. Lufthase, Thanks for the info. Now you got me curious. Who is “Joseph”. I have run twice for Congress and the Assembly and never got a dime from the party.

  13. What this thread highlights is a growing rage against the consultants and business as usual in the DPW. Yet they’re likely a necessary evil on campaigns in particular. Lucky for us, we don’t have to settle for one in the DPW Chair position.

  14. Evidently, all the “consultants,” forgot to mention to DPW and Ms. Burke that legalizing marijuana was the quickest way to beating Walker, taking back the Senate, and perhaps the Assembly. Best of all it would have provided significant inoculation for Dems on state PROPERTY taxes, an issue on which the consultants DID mention that Dems are getting killed.

    Here’s Milwaukee’s Fox affiliate polling on it in MARCH 2014. “What do you think? Is Wisconsin ready for the legalization of marijuana?” http://fox6now.com/2014/03/02/is-wisconsin-ready-for-the-legalization-of-marijuana/

    Pot legalization has strong support on the left and the right. A lot of retired folks are paying for expensive meds from Big Pharma, and they know pot works better and is less expensive. The prohibition against marijuana is a classic example of the GOP’s mantra, a job-killing-government-regulation.

    Did all these “consultants” who invoiced DPW never hear of GOTV? It stands for “get-out-the-vote?” Pot legalization is a GOTV issue. I would never encourage anyone, who did not already have a serious illness, to use it, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either. It would reduce stress AND COSTS up and down the law enforcement supply chain. It would jump start urban agriculture. It would defund the drug gangs. Since it’s coming, Dems should get out front on it. If we don’t, GOP will just climb on board and claim it’s “bi-partisan.”

    IMHO, the big impediment is the massive donations Big Pharma and the private-prisons give to both parties. Wisconsin’s paying a helluva price for those donations.

  15. I want to reiterate what Zach has written and just say that I never intended this post to become a speculative mudbath. If there are legitimate concerns about DPW finances there have to be better channels to sort them out than vague smears in the comment section of a blog post. I understand the frustration people are feeling: I feel it too, but we have to know what we’re talking about before we start talking.

    That said, I stand by the content of the post. I don’t care if Rae had to previously cancel this fundraiser and would have had to absorb costs upon a second cancellation. Tough. The guy has been long on ” I rode my bike to party meetings ” and short on specifics, and seems to think that raising money is the most important thing he can do to win this race. I think it’s a glimpse into how he’ll run the party and I think it’s a glimpse into more of the same we’ve had from Tate. And I would challenge all of the DPW Chair candidates to voluntarily disclose who is donating to their campaigns, how much they’ve raised and how they’re spending it. Transparency seems to be one of the things people want, so whether they’re required by law or party by-laws to do so isn’t the issue, the issue is will you do the right thing and make some disclosures? That would certainly put all of the speculation to rest.

    1. Thanks for chiming in again. This statement might reveal my political naivety or not. Not the first time I’ve done that for sure.

      On my Assembly district and county level many independents are individually writing LTEs and calling out the questions about Walker’s budget that need to be brought to light locally, and showing in force at Republican run public events and legislative listening sessions.

      Knowing the identities of our county Dems, none of that leadership are contributing words, questions or physical presence anywhere they could and should be doing so. They apparently cannot come out to publicly debate or question the legislators they lost to? Geez we all regularly talk to each other in the grocery or at the hardware store, party affiliation not withstanding.

      One might assume that a political party, at the grassroots level, would at least put a well known party face or two in the crowd in rural WI where everyone knows nearly everyone else and have a comment prepared. Tough to figure why the local DPW Administrative committee member (or a couple county party officers) that had 20 minutes less to drive than myself at two venues already this year, couldn’t do it. I had rescheduled work to attend. These people are self-employed or retired. Go figure. DPW chair? Pfffttt.

    2. Steve, I’ll just note that at the event with Wineke, Smith, and Rae, each made it clear they’d disclose their donors during the DPW Chair race.

  16. Marijuana is not a campaign issue. It mobilizes right wing opposition and devides Progressives.

    1. Cat, when did the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson become a liberal?

      “Pat Robertson: Marijuana should be legal”


      Have you ever heard of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)?

      “Rand Paul Wins This Year’s Republican CPAC Straw Poll, Beats Out Scott Walker”


      “Rand Paul calls out Jeb Bush on marijuana”

      “If you’ve got MS in Florida, Jeb Bush voted to put you in jail if you go down to a local store or a local drugstore and get medical marijuana … and yet he was doing it for recreational purposes.”


      When did Rand become a liberal?

      In 2012, Alaska’s electoral votes went to Mitt Romney. They’re the latest state to legalize it. “Alaska becomes latest state to legalize marijuana use” http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/24/us/alaska-marijuana/

    2. I have to agree with John. The few “family values” die-hards and pharma industry suits who’ll get excited about marijuana would be more than outweighed by the libertarian/Paul types crossing over to our side. And I think any divide among progressives is a strategic one. Do you know any progressives who are really pro-prohibition on principle? (There’s a wide gap between “I recommend smoking pot” and being in favor of legalization.)

      And it’s easy to frame it as pro-business and revenue-positive (why hello, giant budget deficit!), maybe even pro-tourism if we beat Minnesota to the punch.

      It sure wouldn’t be my first choice of a “hill to die on,” but we’ve already been rolled on just about everything else (labor, education, environment…). This is a wedge issue that breaks in our favor for once. It would be impractical not to use it at this point.

      1. The approach that would work in Wisconsin is to turn the Tavern League onto a pro stance. Turn on tune in, show them the potential for income, here. There’s your legislative clout to make it happen in short order. If you can fight tougher drunk driving laws for decades, this would be a snap.

        I have not heard this suggestion anywhere else in the pro-legalization world.

  17. This [marijuana] is a wedge issue that breaks in our favor for once. It would be impractical not to use it at this point.

    It’s a losing campaign issue in Wisconsin. Get a popular Democrat elected and the issue has a chance in legislation.
    Both parties will be attracted by the money eventually. But not without debate in the Senate and the Assembly.

    1. I think Democratic candidates can make it part of their platform, without making it the main focus. Just say something like, “I support exploring legalizing and taxing marijuana sales here in Wisconsin, as many other states are starting to do.” It would help win over moderates without making it seem like the party is kowtowing to the stoner vote (because if you make too big a deal out of it, that’s how the GOP media will portray it).

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