Wisconsin Manufacturers And… Bigots?

Did State Big Business Lobby Help Fund Right-Wing, Anti-Gay and Anti-Women's Health Groups?

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MADISON, Wis. — A recent media report on right-wing funding revealed that the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council, Inc. funneled nearly $1 million into a funding stream that resulted in over $1.2 million going to far right-wing groups promoting discrimination based on sexual preference and fighting to restrict women’s access to health care services.

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross commented, “The economic development benefits of homophobia and restricting women’s access to health care services seem dubious at best. But then again, WMC has virulently supported the failed economic agenda of Gov. Walker that has left Wisconsin’s economy lagging the nation and our neighboring states.”

According to a media report, citing federal tax records, in 2011 the non-profit issue advocacy wing of the state big business lobby, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council, Inc. donated nearly $1 million to Wisconsin Club for Growth. The Club for Growth in turn made donations totaling over $4 million to Citizens for a Stronger America, accounting for that group’s entire annual budget in 2011. This group then transferred over $900,000 to Wisconsin Family Action, over 90% of that groups 2011 budget, and nearly $350,000 to Wisconsin Right to Life.

The groups at the end of the convoluted money trail, Wisconsin Family Action and Wisconsin Right to Life are extremely active in pushing a radical social agenda in the state. Wisconsin Family Action is most closely associated with efforts to deny legal rights to people based on whom they love but also delves into education, for example, advocating for the teaching of creationism. Meanwhile Wisconsin Right to Life has waged a decades long campaign to interfere with the ability of women to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their doctors, their family and their own beliefs.

Ross concluded, “Revelations about this funding scheme ought to generate some tough questions from the corporate members of WMC about how their money may have underwritten groups promoting a radical social agenda that has no connection whatsoever to legitimate economic development issues.”

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One Wisconsin Now specializes in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.