By Collin Roth
In a new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WEAC and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters reportedly contacted Democratic State Senators in a bid to lobby them to support Senator Chris Larson for Minority Leader. Senator Larson was elected by a single vote to be the minority leader for the State Senate Democrats, defeating Senator Jon Erpenbach who believed he had the votes to win the leadership position.
Reporter Patrick Marley of the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indicates it was State Senator John Lehman, recent victor in a June 5 recall election, who first acknowledged the contact by the two groups. Marley’s report says:
Lehman said he thought it was unusual to be contacted by people outside the caucus and that other senators also believed that. But, he added, Larson “had developed a rapport with (WEAC and the League of Conservation Voters) and they wanted that to be known.”
Lehman noted people from other organizations also contacted senators, but he did not name the groups. Nor would he say who they supported.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch also found the lobbying by outside groups to be unusual and perhaps even improper.
“I’ve not seen it before,” Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, said of the outside groups’ involvement. “It’s one of the most self-serving insertions into politics that I’ve seen in 30 years.”
Senator Larson was a member of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and earned their endorsement and a $1,000 donation in 2010 when he challenged incumbent Democrat State Senator Jeff Plale. WEAC had supported Plale previously, but then donated $1,000 to Senator Larson in October of 2010 before the general election.
In the past two years of Wisconsin elections, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and WEAC have been heavy spenders for Left-wing candidates at the state level. Between 2011-2012, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters has spent $300,534.35 via their PAC and independent expenditure arm. In the same time period, WEAC spent $746,741.34 on in-state candidates.