A corporate attorney in Madison who is richly compensated for representing the most powerful lobbying groups in Wisconsin, not to mention running interference for some of the shadiest electioneering groups operating in the state, gave the newspaper's reporter this take on the GAB report:
Saying that corporations spent only $2.5 million twists the truth beyond recognition. It is a lie of omission, but a lie nonetheless.
Mike Wittenwyler, an attorney who works with independent political groups, noted that of the $9.9 million in disclosed spending, about $2.5 million was from corporations in the new category created by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United. That shows corporations didn't hijack the political process as some critics of the ruling had predicted, he said.
"The sky didn't fall," Wittenwyler said. "Corporations did not do what everyone was predicting."
The $2.5 million figure Wittenwyler cited was spending by so-called "1.91 Corporations." This is a new category of reporting triggered by a rule (GAB 1.91) approved by the Government Accountability Board earlier this year. But that's hardly the only kind of election spending that was funded by corporations. There was another $1.95 million spent by what GAB labeled "Corporation PACs." And of the $3.8 million that fell into the category the GAB called "Other Committee Types," much of that spending was done by the corporate-funded Republican Governors Association through its RGA Wisconsin 2010 PAC.
Then there is the unreported spending. For example, conspicuously absent from the list of reported spenders is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, whose election spending in 2010 reached seven figures but was not reported to the GAB.
While all of WMC's spending was of the undisclosed variety, RGA was one of several groups that did both reported and unreported spending. Others in that category include the liberal group Greater Wisconsin and the conservative American Federation for Children, which is undoubtedly corporate funded. Groups that also did unreported spending and almost certainly did it with corporate money include Jobs First Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers' American Justice Partnership and Club for Growth Wisconsin.
The Democracy Campaign has accounted for at least $5 million in additional outside group spending in the 2010 state elections that went unreported. We are not done digging for evidence of such activity and are still tallying what we've found so far.
I don't know about the sky falling, but contrary to some very disingenuous spin, corporations did behave precisely as expected and took full advantage of the Citizens United ruling.