All Children Matter, a pro-private school vouchers group founded by a Michigan Republican billionaire was fined $5.2 million for illegally funneling money into Ohio campaigns. This is the same group that is under investigation in Wisconsin after the State Elections Board determined in 2006 that it violated election rules here.
In a 5-0 decision, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled that All Children Matter illegally funneled $870,000 to Ohio through a Virginia PAC, allowing it to exceed the state’s $10,000 limit on PAC contributions. One of the people donating to the illegal effort was Ohio’s largest operator of charter schools, David Brennan. Brennan and his wife have also spent large amounts of cash in Wisconsin. Most notably the couple gave the maximum total of $20,000 to Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Green in 2006.
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, All Children Matter spent at least $1 million on a number of Wisconsin elections in 2006. This includes the $35,000 that they spent opposing John Lehman’s bid for the State Senate, which is where they ran into trouble. In that specific example, the State Elections Board determined that All Children Matter violated rules about express advocacy. They failed to register with the state prior to spending the cash directly advocating against Lehman. In that case, All Children Matter was represented by Ray Taffora and Kevin St. John, who are now top aids to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Even when representing the group, St. John admitted that not registering was contrary to state law.
This is certainly not the first time around the block for this group. In addition to Ohio and Wisconsin, All Children Matter have had complaints filed against them in both Colorado and Florida. Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board should take strong action like Ohio to protect the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections. Apparently that is the only way to let this group know that all election laws matter in Wisconsin.