WISTAX more partisan than WMC?

We here at One Wisconsin Now have worked tirelessly for close to a year developing WISTAX Watch‘€”a comprehensive expose on the pro-corporate, conservative bias of Wisconsin’€™s most vocal and visible tax policy think tank, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX). Among the most blatant examples of its bias is the overwhelming amount of contributions to Republican and conservative candidates and committees. So just how partisan is WISTAX?

Let’€™s first consider the notorious Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC)’€”Wisconsin’€™s largest pro-corporate lobby. Nobody mistakes their highly partisan issue ads and pro-corporate lobbying for anything but. The 50 or so board members of WMC have made $1.1 million in political contributions since 1990, of which 82% went to Republican and conservative candidates and committees. That’€™s nearly $900,000 to the right wing. No small amount to be sure.

But now consider WISTAX. The think tank’€”consistently labeled ‘€œnon-partisan’€ and ‘€œindependent’€ by themselves and the unsuspecting media’€”has had 33 board members since 1994. These board members have made $1.4 million in political contributions since 1990, with 93% going to Republican and conservative candidates and committees. That’€™s over $930,000 to the right wing. Yikes.

Here’€™s a visual representation of WMC and WISTAX contributions.


Though in total and absolute fairness, WISTAX’€™s and WMC’€™s highly partisan contributions aren’€™t the only thing the two groups have in common. Fifteen of the last 33 board members of WISTAX have also served on the board of WMC. In fact, every one of the 16 WISTAX chairs dating back to 1986 has also served on the board of WMC. The one exception is Jere D. McGaffey, a former tax committee chair of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (itself a branch of WMC). Conversely, of the 16 WMC chairs that have served since 1970, seven have served on the board of WISTAX. (Check out the full WISTAX-WMC report.)

Be sure to check out the WISTAX Watch to get the full scoop on the pro-corporate, conservative bias of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

And if you haven’t already, check out One Wisconsin Now’s WMC Watch where we’re tracking the influence of Wisconsin’s largest pro-corporate lobby.

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Cody currently oversees online communications, web development, and graphic design at One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, having served previously as Deputy Research Director.