6 Shady Right-Wing Groups Pouring Money Into Wisconsin Recall
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Scott Walker was an active ALEC member when he was a legislator, and so are a couple of the senators up for recall. Is it any wonder they've gotten money from the ALEC corporations? Alberta Darling has gotten $10,205 in direct donations since 2000, and Randy Hopper $4,294. And that's just the money that can be traced—finding the money coming from ALEC member companies like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, AT&T and Koch Industries is much harder, thanks to new disclosure rules after Citizens United .
3. Wisconsin Family Action
According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Wisconsin Family Action has spent $500,000 on the recalls thus far. The group, formerly a small religious right organization that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage as well as pornography, gambling and taxes, has now teamed up with bigger corporate groups. Adele Stan reported that misleading absentee ballots with the wrong return date also had directions to mail them back to Wisconsin Family Action's headquarters.
The Center for Media and Democracy noted, though, that the ads being run by WFA in the recalls make little mention of the social issues they support, and instead focus on, for instance, Democrat Fred Clark's driving record.
The Wisconsin Gazette, an LGBT newspaper, reported that Wisconsin political veterans are surprised about the amount of money WFA suddenly has to put into election spending. Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate told them:
“All of a sudden this little, tiny anti-gay outfit becomes a major player on the political scene? Come on. They’ve become a front group for somebody’s dirty cash.”
Though there's no way to know where that money comes from, the Gazette speculates it might be coming from Focus on the Family—or from the Kochs.
4. American Federation for Children
Betsy DeVos is the chair of the American Federation for Children—and the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, the infamous private security firm. She also served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party and finance chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Her husband Dick DeVos is co-founder of Amway, and through a network of family foundations (the Richard and Helen DeVos foundation, the Dick and Betsy DeVos foundation) gives away a lot of money to conservative Christian organizations like Focus on the Family, the Foundation for Traditional Values, and the Traditional Values Coalition.
The American Federation for Children touts itself as a “school choice” organization. “School choice” advocates support federal dollars going to private and religious schools through taxpayer-funded vouchers—in other words, it's all about privatizing education, with some nice words thrown in about low-income children being able to go to posh schools.
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:
“This organization spent an estimated $820,000 on independent expenditures and phony issue ad activity in the 2010 fall legislative races. The group is an offshoot of the Michigan-based All Children Matter which spent an estimated $2.5 million on phony issue ad activity in legislative races from 2004 through 2008, and in the 2006 governor’s race.”
5. Faith Family Freedom
Another of the social conservative groups jumping into what was supposedly an economic fight, the Faith Family Freedom Fund is a political action committee controlled by the Family Research Council, which was founded in 1983 by James Dobson and is now headed by Tony Perkins. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the FRC a hate group.
The FRC first got involved in Wisconsin's Supreme Court election earlier this year, supporting incumbent (and eventual winner) David Prosser against Democratic challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones noted: