All Children Matter Guilty, But Remains Unpenalized

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It’s time the Government Accountability Board to act on the recommendations of the former State Elections Board and penalize All Children Matter for violating Wisconsin election laws in 2006.

The Election Board ruled last year that All Children Matter broke the law, but the pro-private school vouchers group hit with a stunning $5.2 million fine in Ohio this April for illegal money funneling has yet to be punished by the GAB.

All Children Matter remains under investigation in Wisconsin after the State Elections Board determined in November 2006 it violated rules about express advocacy in opposing John Lehman’s bid for the State Senate. A mailing by All Children Matter prompted a complaint by the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Care Professionals and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. The former Elections Board agreed that All Children Matter violated campaign laws for failing to register with the state prior to the $35,000 it spent directly advocating against Lehman.

Because of the creation of a new regulator, the Elections Board declined to take action at the time and recommended the incoming Government Accountability Board take up the investigation. In its case, All Children Matter was initially represented by Ray Taffora and Kevin St. John, currently top aides to Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen. At the time, St. John admitted that not registering All Children Matter in Wisconsin was contrary to state law and stated: “What we’re trying to do here is make the best of a mistake.”

In April, All Children Matter was leveled with a $5.2 million fine for illegally funneling money into Ohio campaigns. In its 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. Similar allegations have been made about the organization’s actions in Wisconsin.

All Children Matter is affiliated with Alliance for Choices in Education (also involved in the Wisconsin Elections Board investigation), run by Wisconsin’s George and Susan Mitchell, who have donated thousands of dollars to Wisconsin political candidates. Its network of affiliated groups includes the Alliance for School Choice, which has employed convicted former Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen.

In addition to Wisconsin and Ohio, complaints have previously been filed against All Children Matter in Colorado and Florida. More information about All Children Matter and its giving history to Wisconsin elected officials is available at One Wisconsin Now’s www.AllCashMatters.org.

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Scot Ross served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute from 2007 to 2019.