January 11, 2009

$288,000 in WISTAX Board Member Contributions Show Overwhelming Conservative Preference

92 Percent of Donated Money Has Gone to GOP, Conservatives

MADISON, Wis. — Board members of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated over $288,000 to Republicans and conservative candidates since 1991, compared to just $24,500 to Democrats and liberals, raising serious questions about the organization’s reputation as an objective source for tax policy and research.

“Board members of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance have donated over $288,000 to Republicans and conservative candidates—and they’re welcome to do that,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “But this lopsided giving shows an unmistakable conservative preference. As we all know, the conservative agenda means fewer taxes for corporations and the wealthy and a more regressive tax burden paid by the middle class.”

An analysis by One Wisconsin Now, a progressive advocacy organization created to advance progressive values, ideas and policies, showed that conservatives and Republicans received 92 percent of total money in ideological political contributions made by 12 WTA board members. Two board members, including President Todd Berry, a frequent media and governmental source, made no contributions.

“Solving the economic crisis created by the reckless conservative fiscal policies of the Bush administration will require corporations and the wealthy to begin paying a fair share,” said Ross. “The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance uses a steady drumbeat about Wisconsin’s tax burden to obscure that the middle class is paying for enormous loopholes for corporations and the multi-millionaires.”

With numerous proposed solutions to close the $5.4 billion state budget deficit being debated, from closing the $75 million corporate “Las Vegas Loophole” to reinstating the estate tax for millionaires to ending the corporate tax break that allows businesses to write off Automatic Teller Machines and cash registers at fast food restaurants as computer equipment, Berry and the WTA are insisting the budget deficit is billions less – implying much less need to raise revenue.

As a percentage of all state and local taxes paid, corporate taxes in Wisconsin fall substantially below the national average. Raising the percentage paid by corporations to the national average would create $1.3 billion worth of additional revenue to fund critical priorities needed by the people of Wisconsin.

Board members on the WTA represent a number of corporations including two, AO Smith and JP Cullen and Sons, who according to the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future paid no corporate state income taxes over a two-year period.

“Most organizations have an ideological slant and are identified as such,” said Ross. “It’s fair to say an organization whose board members doled out over $288,000 to Republicans and conservative candidates ought to be labeled accordingly.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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