Saturday, January 30, 2016

Walker's campaign financing is sketchy for two offices

Four months after the implosion of Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, there is still lots of information coming out that show just how seamy and incompetent Scotty’s campaign was….and possibly still is. A top headline in the state's newspapers this morning is the result of Walker's filing with the Federal Election Commission regarding his 10-week run, and apparently Walker's campaign finances were handled as well as his joke of a run for the White House.
Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign ended 2015 with more than $1.2 million in outstanding bills, according to a federal campaign finance report filed Friday.

Walker’s campaign ended the year with about $153,000 cash on hand after spending $7.3 million out of $7.4 million in contributions over the course of the year, leaving his campaign about $1 million in the red.

Campaign spokesman Joe Fadness remained optimistic that Walker will be able to pay off the debt in short order based on his ability to raise nearly $600,000 in the fourth quarter of last year after he dropped out of the race....

When Walker ended his campaign on Sept. 21 after only 71 days, he reportedly still held more than $1 million in debt. In the fourth quarter, he spent about $1.4 million, but about $400,000 of that was returned contributions. More than $300,000 paid for telemarketing and data services and the rest paid largely for consultants, mailers, event staging and campaign travel costs.
Now maybe some of those 4th Quarter costs are paying off invoices from the time Walker was a candidate, but what's with the "telemarketing and data services" part? It couldn't have been gathering items for a dead presidential campaign.

And that leads to the part I want to focus in on- where Walker's campaign apparatus seems to have used his presidential and governor's campaign interchangeably, using both sources of funds to improperly pay for items, and potentially skirt campaign finance laws. This includes the use of Walker’s campaign account for Governor as a way to get around the $2,700 direct donation limits for a presidential candidate, the use of that Governor’s account to pay for expenses that clearly were intended for that presidential campaign, and an allegedly pro-Walker superPAC defrauding donors to pay for the lifestyle of the grifter that ran it.

A quick look at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s database shows 16 different donations were made to Walker’s campaign for the then-maximum amount of $10,000 between Walker’s 2014 re-election in Wisconsin, and his official entry into the presidential race in July. All of these donations were made before Walker officially entered the presidential race on, 6 were from California, 4 from Florida, and only 2 were from Wisconsin (the Reimans, who head up a private investment company called Hexagon Investments). Now other than the Reimans (meh, probably them too), do you think those other 14 people were even considering that their donations wouldn’t be used by Walker’s campaign until an election 3 ½ years later? C’MON MAN!

In addition, a check of Walker’s most recent report to Wisconsin's (soon-to-be-disbanded) Government Accountability Board shows that nearly $120,000 was funneled into Walker’s Governor’s account from “Scott Walker Inc.” over the course of Walker’s 71-day run to infamy. Scott Walker Inc. seems to be the same organization that set up the “Scott Walker for America” presidential website. It could just be some version of in-kind donation for work done on Walker’s governor’s campaign (although a check of Walker’s expenses shows less than $15,000 went to “Scott Walker Inc.”, for the Purchase of Campaign assets” in October after Walker dropped out of the presidential race), but it sure doesn’t seem like a legitimate way to do business.

Related to that, there’s a $21,000 contribution on September 2 from “Penguin Books”, who were the same people who published Walker’s absurdly-titled book Unintimidated. Now, maybe you can use book royalties to directly fund your own campaign (weren't they giving the book away to donors?), and maybe these things are par for the course these days, but it certainly could be construed as a way to launder funds and go around campaign finance limits.

On the superPAC side, there was a least one other misuse of Scott Walker donation funds going on, as detailed by Tim Mak in the Daily Beast this week regarding an allegedly pro-Walker organization called “Go Big Go Bold”.
‘Go Big Go Bold’ was a super PAC formed by Republican operative Robert Adams in Washington, D.C., purportedly to support the presidential ambitions of Gov. Scott Walker. Over four months, he capitalized on the fervor of conservative grassroots activists that supported the Wisconsin politician, raising six figures—and then redirecting the lion’s share back to an operation he himself runs….

Adams’s scheme was…paying for access to email lists, his super PAC sent 50 million emails out to known conservatives over four months, claiming to be raising cash to support Walker’s presidential bid. He raised $161,553 through this method last year.

Of this, the super PAC only spent $5,637 to directly support Walker’s campaign, all on lapel pins from a company called GOP Swag in Florida.

On the other hand, close to $70,000 went to Opinion Strategies, an organization registered in West Virginia to… you guessed it, Robert Adams. The money went to “PAC management,” “email list rental,” and “travel/meals.
Wonder what the suckers who shelled out to “Go Big Go Bold” think about giving funds to allegedly help Scott Walker? I bet at least some of those marks won’t want to make that mistake again if Scotty ever tries to face the voters in the future.

We definitely know Scotty didn’t save any funds for a future Governor’s campaign, since there were barely more than $20,000 of those dollars left by December 31, 2015, after spending $463,505 more than the “Governor’s” campaign took in over those six months. Walker’s “Governor” campaign blew through nearly $1 million in that time period, including more than $240,000 on web advertising and website development. And those websites Walker were advertising on weren’t the hate radio stations of Milwaukee or the many right-wing propaganda web and print outlets based in the state, but instead were on nationally-based nutjob sites like Breitbart and Townhall, in addition online-based ads through social media like Twitter and Pandora.

There is one item that does seem to have been adequately separated in that time period when Walker was running for president. Between his July 13 announcement and late-September withdrawal, there are no line items for “Wages- Campaign staff.” But they do show up in the first half of July, and after October 14. Same generally goes for “Consulting fees”, which only start to be spent out of the Guv Campaign account after Walker bowed out of the race. The flip side of that is that these expenses will continue in 2016, which makes it likely that Walker’s campaign will be in debt in the next report barring a massive influx of direct donations.

And Walker’s failure of a presidential run sure didn’t help him if he was thinking of a 2018 Governor’s campaign as a fallback. Walker’s approval rating fell from around 50% earlier in the year down to the high 30s by his withdrawal in September, and it hasn’t bounced back since, with his approval mired at 38% in the Marquette University Law School Poll released on Thursday.

To review- in addition to being a potential fraudster, Scott Walker and his campaign couldn’t even run the grift of laundering funds between his campaign accounts very well. Those campaigns are now broke on the state side, his presidential account is $1.2 million in debt, and Walker is disliked by pretty much anyone outside of a dwindling bubble of right-wing Wisconsinites. In addition, many potential donors are going to be limited in how much they can give to Scotty for the next 3 years. Yes, the GOP Legislature agreed recently to double contribution limits to $20,000 for a Governor’s campaign, but those $10,000 donations all count towards that $20K. So if anything, Walker’s failed money-laundering operation puts him at a DISadvantage for fundraising for 2018. And I doubt think Scotty’s impending home sale (where he’s asking for less than assessed value!) will allow his 27% credit card-having self to fund his own campaign after the Kochs and other right-wing oligarchs cut him off.

So Scott Walker's campaign has no cash, he has no support, and he soon will have no permanent home. What makes you think he’ll run again and face a public that can’t stand him? It ain’t happening, folks. The only question is whether Walker will be making that decision by himself, or will be forced into it by “outside forces” (be that the puppetmasters that he takes his orders from…or from law enforcement due to this scheme, or other Walker corruption).


  1. Epic piece Jake, awesome. Thank you. Wonder where the paupered prince will register to vote. Will have to check with the USPO to see if he forwards his mail to the governors mansion starting in time for April 5 voting.

    1. Thank you as well, and it will be intriguing to see if he's still in Tosa in 2 weeks to vote for his girl Rebecca Bradley (Foundation). Should be worthy of a good media follow-up.