More Lies From the GOP Noise Machine on Cronon Attacks

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Never  allowing facts to get in the way of its smears, the right wing is trying to create a false moral equivalency between retaliatory actions taken by the Republican Party of Wisconsin against UW-Madison Professor Bill Cronon and a completely different kind of request for contract information made by One Wisconsin Now.

After Professor Cronon, in a widely-read opinion column in The New York Times, pulled back the long-hanging corporate curtain at the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Republican Party launched an unconscionable and chilling assault, demanding a laundry list of items from Cronon’s UW email account.

Now reeling from the backlash, the Republicans have dispatched some of their leading cheerleaders, including the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and Patrick McIlheran from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Their dual campaign of disinformation has zero facts, but since One Wisconsin Now is being named in this laughable attack, here is our response to the nonsense:

One Wisconsin Now sought records, as was reported, solely related to a non-academic, polling project between the UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a private entity which has raised over $2 million in the last three years and is funded by the right wing, pro-Wall Street, right-wing finance machine.

We requested no one’s emails by name, simply seeking the documents related to how much in taxpayer-financed UW-Madison resources were going to the project, and supporting documents for the contract. It is noteworthy  that the UW hastily canceled the contract and amended its press release announcing the project.

A copy of the information we requested October 5, 2009 follows:

“This is to request, under the state’s Open Records Law (19.31-39, Wisconsin Statutes), a copy of any and all documents relating to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Department’s partnership with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute to conduct joint polling as announced in a press release on September 10, 2009.  This request includes but is not limited to:

  • Contract(s), memoranda of understanding, or any other documents setting forth the relationship between the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute related to this partnership;
  • Other documents related to the partnership with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, including documents generated prior to the formalizing of any relationship with WPRI, such as draft contracts;
  • Contracts, memoranda of understanding, or documents setting forth the relationship between the UW and any other vendor or entity related to the project;
  • Billing statements and/or invoices issued by the University of Wisconsin or received from any and all persons, entities, or vendors working on the project;
  • Documents reflecting sources of funding for the project;
  • Documents reflecting  the University’s budget for the project;
  • Documents reflecting  the methodology being used for the polls;
  • Documents reflecting all of the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Research Institute employees working on the project;
  • Documents reflecting University of Wisconsin student participation in the project, whether paid, volunteer, intern, or for-credit;
  • Agendas, meeting minutes, handouts and any other record of governmental bodies within the University discussing the project;
  • All correspondence (with any attachments) related to the project, including email messages, text messages, letters, memoranda, or other communications, including those exchanged between University of Wisconsin employees, students, and representatives and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.”

The results of our investigation found the following (documented at this link):

The documents showed that political calculations were front and center with the project, including altering the polls’ presentation under pressure from the head of WPRI, because the data depicted statewide overall opposition to private school vouchers. That is doubtless why WPRI is trying to raise this noxious and false comparison, and how they were able to get soul mate and stenographer McIlheran to hop on board.

Contrast our effort to obtain records above with the Republicans’ nonsense:

The RPW asked for e-mails from Cronon for “reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell.”

“Union”? “Rally”? “Collective Bargaining”?

Only in the midst of a corporate-financed disinformation campaign could a moral equivalency be made between the ruthless intimidation tactics of the Republican Party of Wisconsin against Professor Cronin and what One Wisconsin Now requested related to contracts and finances in the cancelled polling project that would have used taxpayer-financed university resources.

Looks like WPRI is scrambling again because, they’ve “been burned a couple times and don’t need to be the one holding the gas can.”

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