Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The little guys beat big media, exposing WisGOP voter suppression

Quite a few interesting stories in Wisconsin this last illustrating how new media and grasroots organizations can beat the big boys - including some leftie Cheddarsphere success.

The first goes to the Root River Siren, with her excellent expose of the Romney campaign and Wisconsin GOP's training of poll watchers, which not only gave out false information to the toolboxes looking to suppress the vote of the "others" (for example, saying voter ID was needed in many instances when it wasn't, and that felons who had completed their parole were stil ineligible), but also suggested tactics such as hiding affiliation with the GOP (claiming to be a "concerned citizen" instead), and to photograph and harrass any group arriving in a van to vote.

Well this sleazy story got around and hit the mainstream when Think Progress printed it yesterday going over the wrong information the Romney campaign was giving out, and by last night, the Obama Campaign was asking Wisconsin A-G J.B. Van Hollen to look into the matter, demanding that Wisconsinites have their right to vote protected. And all starting from a little blog post from a woman in Racine.

There was another event this week showing how Wisconsin's right-wing machine will dredge any depth to try to win elections, and it took behind-the-scenes work by non-mainstream media to shine a light on this. Milwaukee's Bradley Foundation and its right-wing backers were found out to be the ones behind the racist "voter fraud is a felony" billboards that disproportionately went up in minority neighborhoods throughout the Milwaukee area. Scot Ross and the gang at One Wisconsin Now joined with Milwaukee community groups to first call on Clear Channel Outdoor to reveal who paid for the billboards This led the person who put up the billboards to blink, and take down that racist tripe instead of having the guts to stand behind what they put up.

That was cool enough, but this week things got a lot better. The Grio worked with OWN to check some records, and outed the the Einhorn Family Foundation as the people who paid for the billboard, and traced the group's money back to the Bradley Foundation and its web of right-wing propaganda outfits.
Organizations receiving financing from Bradley include American Majority, a tea party affiliated group started in 2008 to train candidates for state and federal office, and which has received nearly $700,000 from Bradley since 2010, the Wisconsin Institute for Liberty, a conservative legal organization funded with a $500,000 from Bradley, and True the Vote, which has claimed it plans to recruit 1 million “poll watchers” to challenge voters’ eligibility and be on guard for alleged “voter fraud” at polling places nationwide.... hmmmm, sounds familiar, don't it?

In 2010, the Einhorn Family Foundation received $10,000 from the foundation “to support a public education project” under the Bradley Foundation’s “civic growth and prosperity” giving category.

The foundation is led by Steve Einhorn, who along with his wife, gave Gov. Scott Walker $25,000 during the recall campaign. [Ed. Note] This guy has given Walker nearly $50,000 since 2005.
And now, here's the part that just cracks me up.
One Wisconsin Now came across the foundation’s name by comparing a list of the top Milwaukee private foundations with a list of major donors to Walker’s recall campaign. Ironically, the identity of the private purchaser became clearer after a Milwaukee conservative radio host, Charlie Sykes, mentioned that he had been in contact with the billboard advertiser, because of Sykes’ own strong ties to the Bradley Foundation and his past work for the organization

Bradley Frontman
Yep, that's correct. Scot Ross unmasked the wuss who put up these racist billboards because of statements from the Wisconsin GOP's mouthpiece, Charles J. Sykes. Absolutely hilarious.

But it doesn't stop there. Now the Grio/OWN report inspired the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Dan Bice to follow up with Bradley Foundation CEO and Walker campaign chair Michael Grebe, and got Grebe to admit that the Bradley boys gave Einhorn $10,000 to put up the racist billboards in 2010. Of course, Grebe claims his work with Walker's campaign had nothing to do with putting up the money from his day job toward billboards intended to help Walker's chances of being elected.

Yes Mike, and the Kochs' AFP group acts independently of Scotty as well. It's only out of mutual respect that Scotty was slated to appear with the Kochs at a $1,000-a-plate New York City GOP fundraiser tonight.

Well, Walker was supposed to appear in NYC this week, until Superstorm Sandy struck and washed away not only the fundraiser, but pretty much any small chance Mitt Romney had of winning (KARMA STRIKES). Not that Obama probably wasn't going to win anyway, but now people see what a real leader in the White House acts like in a time of crisis. And it sure ain't Romney or a pathetic Republican party whose campaigns set up faulty voter suppression trainings in Racine, and hide behind dark-money oligarch organizations to try to intimidate voters.

Dan Bice has done a great job in following up on these stories after they have broken, and adding on important details (like Grebe owning up to having Bradley money pay for the racist billboards), but where's the pre-emptive work from people in the know from the biggest guys on the block? But the real question is why did it take great acts of reporting by non-traditional media and grassroots organizations to out these disgusting acts? Is traditional media (particularly you, Journal Communications) so owned by corporate, right-wing interests that it refuses to tell on the crooks, out of fear of reprisal from their bosses, or the prospect of lacking access from the politicians?

This is part of the reason why I write at this place as much as I do (in addition to it being an awesome way to blow off steam). I'm nowhere near as successful as the Root River Siren or Scot Ross or Scott Wittkopf exposing WEDC, or the folks at PR Watch (who not only have been reporting on these stories, but also made WisGOP legislators reveal emails that revealed their work with ALEC over the last year), but if enough of us say what we know and connect dots, real news can be uncovered. Since the mainstream media has been taking a dive this campaign season in order to grab huge amounts of political ads, it becomes the non-traditional media and organizations that are filling the void in Wisconsin.

And if this week is any indication, this type of work just might crush the disgraceful WisGOP machine that has sullied our state's good name and clean government reputation.

1 comment:

  1. One reason is it takes tenacity and digging that costs time and money news organizations rarely like to spend. Of course we are speaking of One Wisconsin Now not the Siren...we just sent in a bland looking schlub with a video recorder and told him not to lose the materials they gave him.

    It was however a good week for bloggers making the news instead of following it. Cheers Jake!