By: Brian Sikma
When the Democrat Governors Association wanted to launch an attack on Governor Scott Walker they chose to launder money through the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund to make the ad appear Wisconsin-based. On April 23 the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund took credit for airing a negative ad that became the first ad of the recall election to focus exclusively on attacking Governor Walker. Campaign finance records show that the money behind the ad actually came from the Washington-based Democrat Governors Association.
Prior to this ad negative attacks ads on Walker had coupled the attack with a quick promotion of a Democrat candidate. Wisconsin for Falk, a super-PAC funded almost entirely by state and national labor money, has used this model to attack Walker while simultaneously promoting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk.
The relationship between the DGA and the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund is noteworthy because the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund is the vehicle of choice for Wisconsin liberals who want to run hyper-negative and factually inaccurate ads without putting their fingerprints on the ads. Repeatedly, Left-leaning good government groups and the press have blasted the fund for resorting to severe distortions of truth and outright lies to attack conservative and Republican candidates.
In 2011 during the hotly-contested state Supreme Court race the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund suggested that the conservative candidate, David Prosser, had used his position as a prosecutor years earlier to cover up sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. The state senate recall elections later that year saw the fund lead the way in hyper-negative attacks that none of the Democrat candidates wanted to launch from their own campaign.
The DGA’s relationship with the fund extends back to 2010, when they spent $1,350,000 on attack ads against Governor Scott Walker that were run in the name of the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund.
At first glance the fund is a perfect vehicle for the DGA because it allows them to make attack ads appear Wisconsin-based while keeping the DGA’s hands clean from the dirty work of hyper-negative campaign ads. However, the fund’s long history of distorting facts and resorting to outright lies does raise questions about the DGA’s commitment to protecting itself from direct ties with unsavory and unethical political organizations.
Big-name groups often try to leave the dirty tricks and tactics to others without directly associating with them. The repeated flow of DGA cash through the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund signals that the DGA as an institution appears to be comfortable associating with a group regarded as the dirtiest political fund in Wisconsin.