MADISON, Wis. — A Milwaukee area businessman whose family foundation sponsored racist voter suppression billboards has thrown his support behind Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn. New campaign finance filings reveal that Stephen Einhorn cut a $2,500 check to Hagedorn’s campaign on January 8, 2019.
“Brian Hagedorn taking thousands of dollars from someone with a history of targeting people of color for voter intimidation is more than just unseemly,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher. “It raises serious questions about whether Hagedorn can be trusted to protect everyone’s most fundamental right in our democracy, our right to vote.”
The billboards, at first identified as being paid for by a private family foundation, appeared in the lead up to the November 2010 election and were primarily located near majority-minority neighborhoods in Milwaukee. The advertisements featured a person of color behind prison bars with a headline declaring, “voter fraud is a felony.” Similar billboards, again sponsored “anonymously” by the Einhorns, also appeared prior to the November 2012 election.
A 2012 joint investigation by One Wisconsin Now and theGrio.com’s Joy-Ann Reid uncovered it was the Einhorn Family Foundation, established by Stephen and Nancy Einhorn, that, in concert with the Bradley Foundation, sponsored anonymous, racist voter suppression billboards in Milwaukee in 2010. In 2012 the Einhorn Family Foundation sponsored billboards in Milwaukee and Ohio.
Einhorn also backed Hagedorn’s former boss, Scott Walker. Hagedorn led Walker’s legal team as his chief lawyer for over four years, during which time a series of anti-voter measures became law. Several Walker-era voter suppression initiatives, including restrictions on early voting, were struck down as racially discriminatory in the federal voter rights case One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al.
Eicher concluded, “Brian Hagedorn was a top aide to Gov. Walker as he systematically sought to rig the rules on voting for his advantage by targeting people of color with voter suppression. Taking big campaign contributions from someone who advertises their racism on billboards is another stain on his record.”