Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

How Americans for Prosperity Wins

Koch-funded group gives huge campaign donations, has gotten long list of bills passed.

By - Mar 1st, 2018 12:51 pm
Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers

The state arm of Americans for Prosperity is one of Wisconsin’s top outside electioneering spenders, doling out an estimated $5.7 million since January 2010 on Wisconsin legislative and statewide elections.

Americans for Prosperity was created by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. This group secretly raises and spends unlimited amounts of cash on phony issue ads to promote conservative social and spending issues, as well as GOP federal, state, and local candidates throughout the country.

The political agenda of Americans for Prosperity mirrors that of other rightwing groups. It advocates tax cuts for business and other powerful special interests, opposes government regulation and the federal Affordable Care Act commonly called Obamacare, and supports environmental deregulation and anti-labor measures.

Americans for Prosperity spent the bulk of its money on outside electioneering activities, an estimated $4.8 million, to help Republican Gov. Scott Walker win his 2012 recall and 2014 reelection campaigns. The group lauded Walker’s successful effort in 2011 to sharply restrict public employee collective bargaining rights, which spurred the recall elections.

In addition to the millions of dollars pumped into the organization by the Kochs, the group also gets support from numerous conservative ideological foundations and powerful business and trade groups, according to a list compiled by the Center for Public Representation.

At least some of the group’s activities are paid for by Wisconsin contributors. The conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has given the group more than $1.2 million, and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business group, has given it $10,000.

In addition to outside electioneering activities, Koch political action committees (PACs) and its corporation directly contributed $125,500 to Republican legislative and statewide candidates and fundraising committees in Wisconsin between January 2010 and December 2017. In addition to the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers also have a business tie to Wisconsin; they own papermaker Georgia-Pacific.

Topping the list of Koch PAC contribution recipients were:

Walker, $43,000

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $18,000

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $12,000

GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $10,000

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, $10,000

Americans for Prosperity also lobbies on state spending and social issues, and it has close ties to the lawmakers it helps elect. The group’s Wisconsin director is Eric Bott, a former aide to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and a WMC lobbyist.

Since Americans for Prosperity began lobbying in Wisconsin in 2005, it has spent nearly $1.5 million. Much of that spending has come during the past two legislative sessions when it spent about $684,800 in 2015-16 and about $507,200 in 2017 alone.

Among the proposals backed by the group over the years that have become law are:

2011 Act 10, severely restricts public employee collective bargaining rights;

2017 Act 134, ends Wisconsin’s ban on mining gold, silver, copper and other precious metals;

2017 Act 57, allows the legislature to delay, change or permanently block state rules to protect the environment, consumer rights and public health and prevents a state agency from creating any new rules and regulations that cost business or industry more than $10 million without legislative approval;

2013 Act 1, loosens several state environmental safeguards for mining. The measure was requested and largely developed by Gogebic Taconite, a subsidiary of an out-of-state mining company that wanted to develop a massive open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin;

2015 Act 150 – changes the state’s pioneering civil service system by replacing merit exams for most civil service positions with resume screening by the partisan Department of Administration, and makes it easier and faster to fire state employees;

2015 Act 344 – repeals Wisconsin’s 33-year-old ban on nuclear power plant construction;

2015 Act 117 – doubles the previous limits on contributions, enables unlimited contributions to PACs, allows candidates’ committees to coordinate with outside advocacy groups, allows corporations to donate to political parties, and deletes the requirement that candidates identify the employers of their large campaign contributors;

2015 Act 118 – dismantles a strong national model of nonpartisan oversight and enforcement of state ethics and elections laws and replaces it with two boards composed of mostly partisan appointees with less authority, independence, and resources to conduct investigations.

2015 Act 1 – prevents unions from requiring an employee to be a union member in order to reap the benefits of contract provisions the union has negotiated in bargaining on behalf of its members.

11 thoughts on “Campaign Cash: How Americans for Prosperity Wins”

  1. Terry says:

    Pay to play works in Walker’s Wississippi! That’s why republicans and Career Politician Scott Walker changed the campaign finamce laws to begin with! The Billionaire out of state money now completely controls Wisconsin and on top of that republicans have gerrymandered the state aka stolen our voting rights.
    The Kochs have gotten a lot of bills they wanted passed over the years, except of course the one that most Wisconsinites actually want passed, legalizing cannabis, which they too purport to support.. I wonder when they will ever get around to sinking some of that money they pour into the state into ending the abject failure of Prohibition? I would guess, never.

    Dump Walker 2018

  2. Troll says:

    The Koch brothers are libertarians that do not support Trump. No 2016 donations to Trump. They do share at least one commonality with the Democrats. A willingness to look past gun laws. If your a felon caught using a gun in a crime. The Koch and the Democrats will do everything in their power to drop the charge. Our you crazy like the Cruz gunmen in Florida in the 1960’s we locked you up. The ACLU, the Kochs and the Democrats got rid of these institutions.

  3. Terry says:

    @Russian Troll, it is your boyTRUMP that is coming for.your guns! He just told Feinstein yesterday to include her Assault Rifle BAN to the current Gun Control legislation! You idiot republicans got SUCKERED! Lol, and it was you who voted for him. Enjoy!

  4. PMD says:

    “Our you crazy”

    Subpar trolling Troll. You disappoint.

  5. Troll says:

    Democrats equal Trump to Hitler and then ask Hitler to take the guns. Reminisant of the disarmament of Jews in the 1930’s before the Haulacaust.

  6. Terry says:

    @Russian Troll, honestly? It is spelled holocaust. If yiu are going to moronically invoke the second greatest genocide ever after the US Slave trade at least spell it correctly!
    You haven’t addressed the real issue yet. It’s not Hitler or Obama or Hillary coming for your guns. It’s TRUMP! You know, the guy YOU voted for. You get what you deserve. Too funny. What are you gonna do when Trump’s jackbooted thugs come goosestepping up to your trailer?

  7. PMD says:

    Troll is sad because he read the new Pew poll that shows 88% of Millennials are moderate, mainly liberal, or strongly liberal. only 10% identify as conservative. So long Troll!

  8. Jim says:

    Act 117 takes care of the issue that spawned the John Doe 1 and 2 probes into Walker’s then outlawed coordination of his campaigns with outside special interest organizations and PACs. Walker’s friendlies screamed First Amendment when the allegations surfaced and a compliant, frequently overturned conservative federal judge and an equally conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court majority fell in line with the First Amendment screamers and squashed the investigation.

  9. will says:

    Kochs, Bradley Foundation, ALEX and Club for Growth are buying the GOP and get our Natural Resources and labor for pennies. I forgot WMC. They all are Unamerican trash and will be written down in history as such.

  10. Jacob pickard says:

    Let’s not forget that the Kochs, and all the other right-wing billionaires, are antithetical to democracy and pay their republican servants for nothing for a big payoff.

    I only hope Russian troll gets paid too. If not I can help you find the AFP off of capitol drive, if it’s not to scared to go into Milwaukee.

  11. Jim Asbury says:

    Folks need to use Google Maps. Look at the map of Wisconsin. Use the Satellite View. Zoom out till you can see all of the state and you will see that there are roads everywhere. The great North Woods are being devoured by development and every year that goes by Northern Wisconsin looks more and more like Northern Michigan. The Great North Woods of Wisconsin will soon be nothing but a memory, replaced with roads and highways and houses and mines. Every square mile will be exploited for profit. Nothing will be saved. A national treasure will be deforested, plowed up and the rivers will be poisoned by run off from mines and factory dairy farms. The fat cats will take their profits back to New York City or Beijing and the natural beauty of Wisconsin will be ruined, Lake Michigan will be a shallow cesspool. The hunters will have nothing to shoot at but fence posts and road signs.


Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us