MADISON, Wis. — Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s campaign received a $10,000 campaign contribution from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), the same group his Deputy Attorney General consulted with days before seeking legal permission to file a Republican-concocted lawsuit to prevent enactment of the federal health reform act.
“This must have been the Republican Party’s $10,000 retainer for JB Van Hollen’s future legal services,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “This committee has made one contribution to one candidate in Wisconsin: JB Van Hollen. Now we know why Van Hollen’s top lieutenant calls this same group, and not legal or constitutional experts, for guidance on the GOP lawsuit.”
According to campaign finance records, the RSLC, a Washington, DC-area 527 organization which has spent $57 million since 2002 to elect Republican candidates, including attorneys general, registered a Wisconsin PAC on June 25, 2009 with assets of $10,000. A day later the group donated that $10,000 to Van Hollen’s campaign.
The results of an open records request filed by One Wisconsin Now and filled only in part by Van Hollen’s office showed yesterday that Van Hollen’s Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora had consulted with and sought advice from Ben Cannatti, the political director of RSLC prior to Van Hollen announcing his efforts to join the GOP anti-health reform lawsuit.
Van Hollen has refused to honor much of One Wisconsin Now’s request citing attorney-client privilege as his rationale, despite having no client and having no legal ability to join the lawsuit. One Wisconsin Now’s lawyers are reviewing all legal options to obtain the remaining records that it believes will show the extent of partisan motive, pressure and wrangling at the core of the suit.
“Every new revelation shows how Van Hollen allows partisan politics, and not the rule of law, to set the Department of Justice’s priorities,” said Ross. “If Van Hollen wants to be the Republican Party’s lawyer, he shouldn’t make the taxpayers of Wisconsin foot the legal bill.”
Among the largest contributors to the RSLC is the American Justice Partnership, created by the National Association of Manufacturers. The American Justice Partnership has donated $2 million to RSLC since 2006 and its website features advertisements run by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce against Kathleen Falk in 2006, Van Hollen’s opponent. WMC spent an estimated $2.5 million in Van Hollen’s razor-thin victory.
According to the website “Crooks and Liars,” several other GOP attorneys general received between $15,000 and $50,000 from RSLC prior to their joining the federal lawsuit.