MADISON, Wis. — Contained in hundreds of pages of recently unsealed John Doe investigation court documents is information about the participation of the state big business lobby, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), in a scheme termed “criminal” by prosecutors orchestrated by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign. Since the release of the documents, Walker has refused to say if he’s still doing it in the lead up to his November election. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross today called on WMC to come clean about its involvement in the scheme.
“Surely the businesses that are the members of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce have no desire to be associated with a scheme prosecutors have termed ‘criminal.’ Gov. Walker may think dodging questions about whether he’s still doing it is the best strategy for his political future, but is it good for business?” asked Ross.
In the documents released last week under order of a federal judge, state prosecutors describe an operation orchestrated by Gov. Walker and his campaign to evade state campaign finance laws. Walker and members of his campaign staff reportedly solicited unlimited, undisclosed donations for a web of right wing groups. These same groups, again in coordination with Walker’s campaign, spent millions of dollars advertising on behalf of Gov. Walker’s policies and positions on issues both during the legislative session and his elections. In response to media questions about the scheme, Walker has been less than forthcoming.
Evidence disclosed by prosecutors showed the Wisconsin Club for Growth gave WMC $2.5 million to run ads in Walker’s 2012 recall election. In addition, WMC reportedly participated in conference calls with Gov. Walker’s campaign and the Republican Governors Association to coordinate strategy.
WMC has spent millions on so-called issue ads and other election related activity in support of Gov. Walker, including $1 million on ads in late 2013. The Republican Governors Association hit the airwaves for several weeks in support of Gov. Walker after the WMC ad buy concluded, and just this week Gov. Walker’s campaign placed an ad buy of their own.
Ross concluded, “It’s a simple question, is Gov. Walker still doing it? And is WMC still aiding and abetting a scheme prosecutors have described as ‘criminal’? The people of Wisconsin deserve answers.”