MADISON, Wis. — The largest individual donor to Brian Hagedorn’s campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Michael White, has shown he’s willing to do more than just pull out his checkbook to try to get the electoral result he wants. According to news reports, employees of White’s Rite-Hite received an email from him at work in late October 2012 warning them of “personal consequences” if President Barack Obama were to be re-elected.
According to state campaign finance records, on November 20, 2018 Michael White is recorded as having donated $20,000, the maximum individual contributions allowed by law, to Hagedorn’s campaign.
“Brian Hagedorn’s largest individual donor literally threatened the livelihoods of the employees of his company if an election did not go his way,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “How in good conscience can someone who wants to sit on the state high court take $20,000 from someone willing to use these kinds of tactics to get their way?”
Among the specific threats made to the company’s employees by White over the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election were the elimination of their retirement savings plan and the loss of their employer provided health care. Hagedorn’s campaign benefactor went on to ominously warn President Obama’s re-election would mean, “Every opportunity to make up for lost profits to taxes will have to be evaluated.”
After receiving White’s email employees contacted the media and shared the missive, but only on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs for revealing their boss’ bullying tactics.
In addition to crossing the line into bad taste, White’s electioneering may also have been illegal. Wisconsin state law prohibits threats against employees over the outcomes of elections by their employers.
President Obama won Wisconsin and was re-elected in 2012. During his administration the nation enjoyed 75 consecutive months of job growth, although Wisconsin with Scott Walker, who employed Hagedorn as his legal counsel in the Governor’s office, and the Republican controlled legislature lagged the national average on jobs.
Ross concluded, “President Obama’s re-election did not bring the doom predicted by Michael White, and apparently has not prevented him from forking over $20,000 for Brian Hagedorn’s campaign.”