MADISON, Wis. — Americans for Prosperity, the organization funded by big oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, has just purchased over $150,000 in television ad time for Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee in what could be a new wave of spending to try and save the six Republican state Senators who are being recalled for their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s reckless attacks on public education, health care, workers’ rights and the middle class. This is in addition to $380,000 Americans for Prosperity previously spent this year to support Walker’s agenda.
“The granddaddy of corporate, big oil special interest money has turned on the money pipeline in a new six-figure bid to save Scott Walker’s Senate majority,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “The Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has now dumped over $500,000 to pollute Wisconsin airwaves about the failed agenda of Scott Walker and the Senate Republicans and they may just be getting started.”
Gov. Scott Walker was roundly-criticized when just days after unveiling his scheme to end the rights of 175,000 Wisconsin workers, he was pranked in a recorded phone call from someone he thought was David Koch. Walker not only admitted during the call his team considered sending agitators to cause trouble during the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol, but also told “Koch” he needed the group to come and spend money in the state, saying:
…they ‘re going to need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy a good thing to do for the state so the extent that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously, that’s obviously a good thing.
Americans for Prosperity emerged as the most powerful of all of the groups fueling the so-called Tea Party movement and has spent in excess of $65 million since 2008, including $40 million in 2010 when Republicans seized power of numerous state legislatures and Gubernatorial seats, including Wisconsin which went from having a Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled Senate and Assembly to complete Republican control.
Governor Walker and the Republican legislature have put protections for clean air and water in the crosshairs of their pro-corporate agenda. This is particularly helpful for Koch Industries, which owns Georgia Pacific, a company that has contributed nearly 10 percent of all phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River basin, according to a government report released in June 2010. Koch pipelines in Wisconsin over the past two decades have leaked 160,000 gallons of oil and gasoline, which is particularly problematic in a state like Wisconsin, where 70 percent of residents rely on groundwater as their drinking source.
In the final weeks of the campaign, a new shadowy group with strong ties to Americans for Prosperity spent approximately $1 million to re-elect pro-Walker Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in April 2011. After the election, the head of the state Americans for Prosperity chapter bragged about the group’s effort in the campaign’s waning days to help Prosser win by the slimmest margin in any recent Supreme Court race. Prosser not only cast the deciding vote to uphold Walker’s attack on collective bargaining, but also joined the Court’s majority in overturning a “lower court decision allowing a public challenge to the permit giving Koch’s Georgia Pacific plants more leeway in dumping phosphorus into waterways.” [ThinkProgress, 4/13/11; Slate, 6/17/11]
“The Koch pipeline has opened up once again for Scott Walker and his Republican Senate,” said Ross. “But it’s the attacks by Scott Walker and his Republican Senate lapdogs on the middle class, education, health care and workers rights that are fueling the historic recalls and rejection of the Walker-GOP pro-corporate agenda.”