Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today reminded you of more reasons why it pays to pay to play in Walker's Wisconsin. Wisconsin and Southern Railroad exec William Gardner got sentenced to probation on two felony counts relating to illegal contributions and was fined $167,000. Gardner gave over $43,000 to Scott Walker in the last election cycle by funneling money through his employees and getting access to the guy who's now governor. And the payoff for those $43K in donations and $167K? How about Walker announcing over $15 million in grants and loans to WSOR ONE DAY before Gardner was arrested on the illegal contribtion charges. That's a return on investment of more than 7000% of the $210,000 put in, and Gardner doesn't even have to get his ass pounded in jail. Crime certainly does pay when you know the right people.

I'm also reminded of who's paying the bills under the Capitol big top because the recall election fundraising totals just came out for the the Quarter ending June 30. While the mainstream newspapers predictably covered the horse-race element and concentrated on total numbers without giving the context that Republican Senators had a 2 1/2 year head start on fundraising due to the fact that they were incumbents elected in '08 , they just-as-predictably failed to go inside the numbers to see where the contributions came from. Well, if you care about how our democracy is being bought and sold, where the funds are coming from is every bit as important as the amounts, if not more.

And in particular, let's go to the Fred Clark-Luther Olsen matchup. The big story that the media covers is the 2-to-1 advantage Clark had in fundraising in the last quarter, although to their credit, they also mention the PAC contributions from teacher's unions for Clark, and the (slightly larger) PAC contributions Olsen got Eli Lilly and other health insurance interests. Luther responded today to these numbers by playing the out-of-state agitator card and claiming Clark's support wasn't legitimate. However, if I were Luther, I really wouldn't go there.

Here's why. If you look at Olsen's report with the GAB, you might notice an interesting name on Page 10- Howard Fuller and Deborah McGriff, giving $700 on June 2, and another $350 from Fuller on April 19. Interesting, as Fuller is the former Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent and one of the key figures behind the voucher school movement. He's been actively campaigning for voucher schools for years, and gee, what a surprise, Olsen chairs the Assembly Education Committee and has a key role on the Joint Finance Committee. And voucher schools were massively increased in the last budget, including a feature that could expand it even further in future years. Especially interesting in that article is that the vouchers were expanded to Green Bay and other cities after Joint Finance Committee Republicans claimed there was a huge outpouring of support of voucher schools from the public.

Well, look at the date of that meeting (June 3) and compare it with Fuller's family's donation of $700 on June 2, $500 from "Friends of Joe Leean", (a former legislator and Cabinet member who hosted a Moonie-led, "abstinence-before marriage" rally 14 years ago at the Capitol), and a donation of $500 the next week from Bradley Foundation CEO (and voucher propagandist) Michael Grebe. Sorta gives you an idea what that "public support" was to cause that reversal on GB and elsewhere. LUTHER AND HIS BOYS GOT PAID!!!

Now check out the conduit donations starting around Page 20. Not a lot of Baraboos or Portages or Ripons or Clintonvilles in the report, but there are a whole lotta out-of-staters and Milwaukee-area cash. And there's a full 2 pages of hospital and health care payoffs- gee, you think they may like being able to dictate terms of coverage with fewer people on Badger Care and more cash being able to be kept in profit? You bet they do. Lastly, there's a nice $1,000 check from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, who were a huge support group behind the GOP-led rollback in child labor laws. It really does pay to invest in a key legislator.

And Luther can also keep it in the family, as shown when One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint with the GAB noting that Olsen authored a bill allowing CESAs to run charter schools. The head of the CESA in Luther's neighborhood? Luther's wife Joan Wade, who met Luther when they were both in the State Assembly in the 1990s and early 2000s. CHA-CHING! (Of course, she was known as Joan Wade Spillner at the time and they were both married to other people at the time, just sayin')

The extra-special fun in seeing the Luther Olsens and other WisGOPs of the world complain about "outside interests groups" helping Democrats, they never mention the Koch PACs, WMCs, and Club for Growth payments that will be flooding the airwaves on their behalf. You know, the same groups that backed David Prosser and outspent pro-Kloppenburg ads by nearly a $1 million. And that $2.7 million sure paid off when Prosser and his other paid-off judges made their absurd decision last month on the collective bargaining bill, didn't it?

Deep Throat was more correct now than he was nearly 40 years ago- When you're dealing with politics in the 2010s, and especially Republican politics, it always comes down to following the money. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign database is a great resource- use it.

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