MADISON, Wis. — Then-Milwaukee County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker directed his assistant administrator to “please help him out,” after being asked by Stephen Einhorn for information that was ultimately used in dozens of voter intimidation billboards that were placed around Milwaukee in the weeks leading up to Walker’s election as governor.
“This is the smoking gun that shows Scott Walker at the center of one of Wisconsin’s most notorious voter intimidation efforts,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Scott Walker stood silent while legal voters in the community he represented were intimidated and now we know why.”
A 2012 joint investigation by MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid and One Wisconsin Now revealed that it was Einhorn’s private family foundation that was behind the anonymous billboards. A review of IRS documents also showed Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation, headed by Scott Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, and one of the largest sources for right wing funding in America, gave the Einhorn Family Foundation a $10,000 grant, at the time the 2010 suppression billboards appeared, “to support a public education project.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported on the Einhorn-Walker emails late Thursday, previously confirmed the gift from Grebe to Einhorn was to finance the 2010 billboard campaign. Einhorn funded similar billboards in 2012, which community activists in Milwaukee successfully had taken down after intense public pressure. Einhorn and his wife Nancy have contributed just under $50,000 to Walker since the end of 2008.
In an email to Walker’s county executive address, dated July 22, 2010, Einhorn wrote:
I need to know the rules for illegal voting in Wisconsin. Please check into the rules, including federal statutes. I need to know what the law is, if you violate it. Is this a felony? Do you go to jail? If you vote and you are not a citizen, what happens? If you vote and you are not a resident, what happens? If you vote twice, what happens? I need this for some work that I am doing, and would appreciate your prompt response.
Walker forwarded the email two hours later to his assistant administrator with the instructions:
Please help him out.
The billboards, which can be viewed here, appeared weeks later and read “VOTER FRAUD is a FELONY” and “3 YRS & $10,000 FINE.” The billboard had women and people of color behind bars with a speech balloon saying “We Voted Illegally.”
The original reporting by Reid for theGrio.com on the billboard controversy can be found at http://bit.ly/VyZyUk.
One Wisconsin Now was also featured in media about the billboard on state and national media, including Melissa Harris-Perry and PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton.