wisconsin capitol
Press Release
September 14, 2016

Color Them Corrupt: Doe Documents Paint Republican Senators Olsen, Harsdorf as Key Players in Payoff to Major Donor

Voted to Provide Immunity From Legal Liability to Major Donor to Group That Attacked Their Election Opponents

MADISON, Wis. — Explosive new documents from the 2012 John Doe investigation of political corruption involving Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and special interest groups published by The Guardian today implicate Republican state Senators in advancing the legislative agenda of a major donor to a group that spent heavily in their recall elections.

“It’s been clear for years that there’s no line between Gov. Walker’s administration, his campaign and the agendas of his big money donors,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “But these documents paint key state Senators as deplorably corrupt and engaging in the same sleazy tactics as Walker, paying back a major donor to the group that bailed them out in their recall elections.”

Evidence gathered by state prosecutors found that Harold Simmons, owner of NL Industries, one of the largest manufacturers in the U.S. of lead used in paint, donated $750,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth. That group spent heavily in the 2011 recall elections of key Republican senators, including Luther Olsen and Sheila Harsdorf.

Olsen and Harsdorf subsequently voted as members of the Joint Committee on Finance to insert a last second provision into the 2013 state budget that granted Simmons’ corporation retroactive immunity from legal liability for the poisoning of Wisconsin children with lead produced by his company and used in paint. The motion was the final “999 motion” of the 2013 budget deliberations (see 6b).

In an email providing talking points from Club for Growth Wisconsin head and Gov. Walker campaign consultant R.J. Johnson to Walker for a call to donors, set to be made from the taxpayer funded mansion provided to Walker, the efforts of the Club in the recall elections for key state Senators were detailed. Walker was instructed to note, “We needed to hold four of the six Republican Senators facing recalls last week in order to maintain our conservative majority in the state senate. With your help and against the odds, we beat back the national unions and held our majority …”

Specific recall elections efforts of the Club for Growth Wisconsin that Walker was directed to highlight included attacks on the the opponents of Senators Olsen and Harsdorf.

Ross concluded, “The state Senators who benefitted from lead paint industry-fueled campaign spending on their behalf put protecting the people who poisoned children with retroactive immunity from liability before justice for victims. Luther Olsen, Sheila Harsdorf and the others who were in on this sleazy deal have some serious explaining to do for their deplorable actions.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

dear democratic party abortion graphic
Press Release

Standing Up for Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care for Women

One Wisconsin Now has joined with fellow Progress Now affiliates in calling on the DNC to continue to stand strong on protection of abortion rights.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/19/2018
michael screnock and scott walker smiling together
Press Release

Team Screnock = Team Walker

Michael Screnock worked to defend Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda in court, now Team Walker campaigns for Screnock’s Supreme Court race.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/19/2018
wisconsin state capitol building at night
Press Release

Scott Walker to Call Special Session on Attacks on Poor, People of Color

Wisconsin Republicans led by Gov. Scott Walker announced a special session of the legislature devoted to renewed attacks on families struggling to get by.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/18/2018
UNSPUN Screenshot
In the News

UNSPUN: Democratic Win in State Senate Special Election

Analysts discuss the Democratic win in a state Senate special election and fundraising numbers for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates.
WMTV-TV
01/17/2018
american flag
In the News

Wisconsin progressives need to build a bigger boat

The divisive, distracted, disappointing quarter century of Scott Walker as a Wisconsin elected official could mean progressives will need a bigger boat in 2018.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
01/12/2018
wisconsin capitol
Press Release

Scott Walker Hypocrisy Reaches ‘Biblical Proportions’

Scott Walker has failed to express remorse for his own appearance as a featured speaker sharing a stage with white nationalists at a conference three weeks ago.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/08/2018
scott walker
Press Release

Gov. Scott Walker Praises Creators of Student Loan Debt Crisis

Scott Walker, who opposes a common sense student loan refinance plan, is “honoring” one of the nation’s most worst actors in the student loan crisis, Sallie Mae.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/05/2018
adam jarchow student loan debt
Press Release

Rep. Adam Jarchow Stars as ‘Jar Jar Banks’ In 10th Senate District Run

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross suggested Rep. Adam Jarchow has earned the moniker “Jar Jar Banks” for choosing banks over student loan borrowers.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
01/05/2018