Yesterday I covered a little known local non-profit group that is messing in Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee issues called Milwaukee Works, Inc. This morning Daniel Bice and Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel expose another secretive interloper. I don’t think I’ve seen anything from them in my neighborhood but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out here.
A secretive group led by a longtime conservative political operative has spent as much as $200,000 to influence Tuesday’s city elections, including the Milwaukee mayor’s race and key aldermanic contests.
And the group has done all this without disclosing its donors, detailing its spending or even registering with local, state or federal agencies.
Craig Peterson — a veteran GOP operative — said last week that his group, called Milwaukeeans for Self-Governance, has been involved in just about all of the 14 competitive Common Council races. Only one incumbent, Ald. Jim Bohl, isn’t facing a challenger.
Peterson insisted the group and others that he’s created are focused on improving conditions in Milwaukee, such as combating crime and improving job opportunities for city residents, especially African-Americans.
“We’re not registered with anybody because we don’t need to be,” Peterson said. “However, we are going to be around for a long time, so there may be multiple organizations.”
But the diverse slate of candidates backed by Peterson’s group doesn’t appear to have a single unified message or agenda — except possibly opposition to a Milwaukee streetcar — prompting some to wonder what Peterson is really aiming to achieve.
It’s not clear who is putting the money up for the sophisticated operation, which is underwriting radio ads, opposition research and detailed city polling. Peterson will say only that it receives funding from a “network of business people.”
But one thing is certain: Peterson is out to upset the balance of power at City Hall.
And here’s the kicker: Mr. Peterson lives in River Hills…?
If these two little local groups aren’t enough to convince us that the campaign finance laws need some serious revisions…I don’t think there’s any hope left for democratic government at any level anymore.