Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grassroots My Ass

Governor Scott Walker’s campaign finance report shows 56,530 itemized individual contributions totaling $7.83 million during the first six months of 2014 – a statistic his campaign claims is indicative of “overwhelming grassroots support for Governor Walker’s campaign to continue moving Wisconsin forward.”

Walker is among dozens of politicians over the years who use the number of campaign contributions to claim they’re really popular with ordinary citizens. But a closer look at the numbers reveals little proof of “overwhelming grassroots support.”

First, the number of itemized contributions came from slightly more than 41,500 donors who represent only seven-tenths of 1 percent of the state’s estimated 5.8 million residents.

Second, most of Walker contributions and donors were from outside Wisconsin. The governor received $4.39 million or 56 percent of his contributions from nearly 22,000 donors outside the state who can’t vote for him, and $3.43 million or 44 percent from slightly more than 19,500 Wisconsin residents – about three-tenths of 1 percent of Wisconsin’s 5.8 million residents. About $9,700 worth of the governor’s itemized contributions listed no state or zip code.

Third, Walker’s campaign statement claims 76 percent of the contributions it received were for $75 or less – another statistic meant to show grassroots support – but that’s not where the governor raised most of his money.

A review of his individual contributions shows he received $4.53 million in contributions of $1,000 or more which represents 57 percent of his total individual contributions for the six-month period.

Walker’s Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, hasn’t made the same claim of grassroots support based on her 2014 fundraising – nor should she. Burke’s campaign report showed she accepted 50,518 itemized contributions totaling $3.29 million from slightly more than 35,500 donors who represent only sixth-tenths of 1 percent of the state’s population.

Burke accepted $1.11 million or 34 percent of her total individual contributions from slightly more than 17,600 out-of-state donors who can’t vote for her, and $2.18 million from slightly more than 17,900 Wisconsin residents – about three-tenths of 1 percent of state residents.

And Burke’s take from contributions of $1,000 or more totals $1.02 million or 31 percent of her individual contributions.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Big Donor Seeks OK For Golf Course Project In State Park

The company led by a generous contributor to Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed building a road and maintenance facility in a state park that would serve a new high-end golf course on company-owned land adjacent to the park.

The Kohler Company’s request for a conditional use permit to develop the new course on its land is scheduled for a July 16 hearing before the Town of Wilson Plan Commission.

In addition, the Department of Natural Resources must approve an easement before the golf course maintenance facility and road can be built on state property. The affected acreage includes forest and wetlands in the Kohler-Andrae State Park near Lake Michigan.

The Kohler project comes amid years of criticism the Walker administration has pushed to make the DNR a more business-friendly agency at the expense of safeguarding the environment.

Kohler Company employees contributed $51,304 between 2009 and 2013 to legislative and statewide candidates. Most of the contributions – $44,500 – were made by company president Herb Kohler Jr. Walker received $42,254 followed by GOP Senators Joe Leibham of Sheboygan at $3,950 and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau at $2,000 from Kohler and his employees.

Kohler developed Whistling Straits golf course which will host the 2015 PGA Championship, one of professional golf’s four major tournaments. The course also hosted the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships.

Companies Cited In Investigative Report Gave Generously To Governor

Three companies cited in a recent WKOW-TV investigative report that dealt with outsourcing jobs in Wisconsin to foreign countries after they accepted millions of dollars in tax breaks from the state contributed more than $6,500 to state and legislative candidates from 2011 through 2013.

Executives of Eaton Corporation, its subsidiary Cooper Power Systems, and Plexus Corporation made most of their contributions – $5,553 – to Republican Governor Scott Walker during the three-year period. Tax breaks were awarded to Eaton and Plexus beginning in 2011 by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a state agency created and chaired by the governor to foster business growth and job creation through tax credits, grants and other financial incentives.

Campaign finance records showed Cooper Power Systems executives contributed $4,305 from 2011 through 2013, including $4,080 to the governor. Plexus Corporation executives contributed $1,395 to state and legislative candidates during the period, including $640 to Walker, and Eaton Corporation executives gave $833 – all to the governor.