UW Spends Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Leftwing Think Tank

Legislative leaders have said the $95 million budget increase the University of Wisconsin system is looking for in the next budget cycle will be a “tough sell.” But while the legislature and UW officials wait for Gov. Scott Walker’s executive budget, Media Trackers has discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fund a leftwing propaganda center run out of the University’s Sociology Department.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) is a self-proclaimed “think-and-do tank” that has come under fire in recent years for its far leftwing “research.” In just the past two years, Media Trackers has uncovered COWS attempting to evade Wisconsin’s open records laws multiple times, collaborating with a union front group to push a Milwaukee Living Wage proposal, coordinating efforts to raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage with Democratic legislators and union front groups, billing UW tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses for participating in leftwing events, and creating policy manuals that advocate for local governments to obstruct federal immigration enforcement and severely restrict the right to bear arms – to name a few.

The director of COWS was even part of a secret national network, discovered by Media Trackers, created for leftwing activists and leaders to share tactics, strategies and opinions.

According to UW-Madison budget documents, COWS’s salaries and wages have been paid through at least 4 different funds over the past two years; Fund 133 (Non-Federal Grants and Contracts), Fund 136 (General Operations Receipts), Fund 161 (Endowment Trust Fund Income) and Fund 233 (General Gifts). While the Endowment Trust Fund spending may raise the eyebrows of some who may not like their donations going to fund a UW center that skews data to advance the liberal agenda, General Operations Receipts spending is coming straight out of the pockets of state taxpayers.

According to a Legislative Audit Bureau report:

General Operations Receipts is revenue that is not recorded elsewhere. Typically, these amounts are used for cost recovery programs serving the general public, such as music and sports camps. Accounts may also exist within General Operations Receipts to set aside funding for equipment and other capital purchases, as well as for certain scholarships.

Last spring UW cash reserves were discovered totaling more than $1 billion dollars – of which $648 million became known as the “UW slush fund” and led to the legislature and Gov. Walker enacting UW’s first-ever tuition freeze. Of the over $1 billion in fund balances, $138 million came from General Operations Receipts – the same fund used to pay for a portion of the COWS’ operation.

According to UW budget documents, COWS was budgeted $95,676 in 2013-14 and $160,000 in 2012-13 in General Operations Receipts spending. Those contributing to the Endowment Trust Fund provided funding to the group to the tune of $350,814 in 2012-13 and $79,461 in 2013-14. It is important to note that these amounts do not include the hundreds of thousands COWS takes in for doing contract work for leftwing causes. Nor do the figures represent the value the UW office space and equipment COWS uses at its campus headquarters.

According to a more detailed breakdown of COWS 2012-13 spending, donors who were gracious enough to contribute to the UW Endowment Trust Fund can take credit for providing a good portion of the salaries of COWS Director Joel Rogers and Associate Director Laura Dresser. Rogers has infamously referred to Republicans as “ruthless mother***ers, “criminals,” and “evil mother***ers,” and Dresser has openly bragged about counting votes to determine whether her work is a success. She has also voiced her support of teachers who walk off the job to protest Republican policies.

While Walker and legislative leaders consider the UW system’s budget increase in the coming months, Republicans are likely to give second thought to funneling more money to a group run by a man who believes them to be “evil mother***ers.”