Labor unions funding recall PACs

2011-07-08T10:45:00Z Labor unions funding recall PACsBy KATE ELIZABETH QUERAM and ALISSA SMITH | Wisconsin Reporter Chippewa Herald

MADISON — Labor unions are throwing millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s recall elections. And the political action committee getting the millions has a simple goal: Make sure Democrats win and Republicans lose.

To date, We Are Wisconsin’s political action committee has raised more than $4 million for recall efforts, with most of the large contributions coming from labor unions, according to campaign finance documents.

“Just six weeks after the formation of the We Are Wisconsin PAC to engage in the historic Wisconsin recall elections, pre-primary financial reports show the group in a strong position to help flip the Wisconsin state Senate,” the organization said in a news release.

The PAC has raised more than $4 million and has $2 million on hand, the group said in a news release.

We Are Wisconsin is a nonprofit voter education and grassroots lobbying organization that worked to organize anti-government protests at the Wisconsin Capitol and around the state, according to its website.

Kelly Steele, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, declined to comment on the organization’s fundraising numbers. He didn’t say where the organization is spending its millions.

Finance documents show that virtually all large contributions coming into We Are Wisconsin’s PAC were from labor unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the country.

AFSCME gave more than $1.07 million to the We Are Wisconsin PAC, while the AFL-CIO dropped more than $3.1 million into the campaign coffers. The American Federation of Teachers donated $22,168.55. The AFT is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and claims to represent more than 1.5 million people.

The Government Accountability Board, or GAB, the state’s election agency, enforces a $1,000 limit on direct contributions from PACs to candidates. But political action committees are free to use funds to try to influence voters by phone, in person and on television, according to GAB spokesman Reid Magney.

“They can make independent expenditures. That means they can go and run an ad that says, ‘Sen. So-and-so is a great person and should be retained’ or ‘The challenger doesn’t deserve to be elected,’” Magney said. “The restriction on these is that any committee that’s making these independent ads can’t coordinate them with any candidate, but if I run a PAC, there’s nothing that says that I can’t go out and buy airtime and run ads that say that candidate A is great and candidate B is bad.”

The We Are Wisconsin PAC spent more money opposing Republican candidates than it did supporting Democrats, according to the finance documents. The committee paid more than $1 million — a total of $1,019,276 — on mailing, television ads, phone banks and campaign staffing to defeat Republicans, compared with $975,016 on the same measures backing Democrats.

The amount of union money pouring into the recall elections is unprecedented but unsurprising, as the political battles were spurred mostly by the passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill earlier this year.

Introduced in February, the legislation contained a controversial measure that increased public employees’ contributions to their pension and health-care funds while restricting their collective bargaining rights to wages only, and capping salary increases to the rate of inflation. The law took effect June 29, well after the actions of both parties had set into motion the wheels of recall efforts.

Three Democratic senators — Robert Wirch, of Pleasant Prairie; Jim Holperin, of Conover and Dave Hansen, of Green Bay — and six Republicans — Sens. Alberta Darling, of River Hills; Dan Kapanke, of La Crosse; Robert Cowles, of Green Bay; Luther Olsen, of Ripon; Randy Hopper, of Fon du Lac and Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls — are facing recalls.

In some cases, the money used by the We Are Wisconsin PAC to defeat the six Republican candidates via phone, mail and the airwaves has nearly eclipsed the funds raised by the candidates themselves.

For example, the PAC spent nearly $78,000 on campaign staff members, phone banks, brochures and television ads urging voters to support Cowles’ opponents, including former De Pere Mayor Nancy Nusbaum of De Pere, who is a former Brown County executive. Former Republican state Rep. Otto Junkermann of Green Bay, who is running as a Democrat in the recall, said he doesn’t “know how I could avoid being considered” a placeholder candidate in the race.

That’s $78,000 from the We Are Wisconsin PAC nearly equal to Cowles’ overall fundraising total, which was $100,521 as of Tuesday, according to finance documents. Cowles’ campaign manager Craig Summerfield called that outcome unsurprising.

“We’ve known from the beginning that we’d be out-fundraised both directly and from the outside groups,” said Summerfield.

Summerfield said he believes the money is being spent on door knocking and phone calls asking people to vote against the incumbent senator, as well as staff costs for recall committee members.

Calls to the campaigns of the Democratic candidates were not returned.

Gillian Morris, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said We Are Wisconsin is “completely independent from us,” and any funding from the organization is not coordinated or affiliated with the state Democratic Party.

Copyright 2015 Chippewa Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(30) Comments

  1. Chuckie
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    Chuckie - July 24, 2011 2:51 pm
    A few business owners that claim not to pay their fair share of taxes, certainly isn't going to convince the millions that have read tens of thousands or articles in Major papers of the contrary. You are wasting your breath/wind, we read and comprehend...we are educated by Union Teachers. The ones claiming to pay the most, pay the least. Quick, brush the cookie crumbs from your faces.
  2. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 23, 2011 12:06 pm
    See I knew you would get giddyfish pay your dues and you will get that"FAIR" wage. Thank you for understanding.
  3. giddyfisher
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    giddyfisher - July 22, 2011 8:46 am
    Anyone else having a difficult time reading the comments due to lack of basic grammar?

    I suppose the union would protect your ineptitude in that area too.

    In theory it doesn't matter how effective our schools are in the union world as it isn't how smart or skilled you are, it is when you were hired. Accordingly to Clancy THEN you get those skills. (Or maybe not, but hey seniority rules!)

    So kids, why bother trying. There isn't a point. Pay your dues and someone will get you that fair wage.
  4. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 18, 2011 6:00 pm
    Well just got back from the mailbox and I guess the Excutive Vice President of the Untruthful Fabrication Plant- Total Lies Dept.Forgot to mail me my pink slip agin as it wasn't in the mailbox.One day closer to that Great Union Pension.I am still what they called me almost 40 years ago. I forsake the new job titles for raises and benefits.
  5. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 16, 2011 11:45 pm
    promised "PINK SLIP". Mister Liarboy Vice president and Chief Excutive Officer of the Untruth Dept of Wreckerboy Fabrication Plant. I have seen you guys operate. Ahh sorry there hard working person there is no raise for you this year but we can make you a specialists or we can give you any title upgrade that you request. But we need to give the big cheeses bonuses sorry nothing for you.
  6. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 16, 2011 11:39 pm
    I Clancy G now declare you "liarboy" your new name at which anyone with any honest work ability should refer to you. There is absolutley no substatiated points that you have ever posted. You continue to question the pure truth that I post because you are my subordiante. My only hope for you is that you are a business owner trying to keep your underpaid employees from figureing out that you are raking them over the coals to promote your own selfess greed. SOLIDARITY. Day 100+ and yet to see your
  7. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 16, 2011 3:45 pm
    Cmon wreckerboy I love it when you keep giving me all this easy ammo to defeat your simple minded arguement. Wow 10 year employees that means it takes 4 of them to make my years of dedicated service. Probably the same amount to make my yearly income. Bah ha ha ha ha wreckerboy showing his young age and lack of expeiernce,both in work and winning disagreements. Solidarity and getting closer to that great union pension. No pink slip again today Mr. Fabricator. Is anything you say true?
  8. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 16, 2011 11:51 am
    Ahh yeah right there wreckerboy. You just keep livin in your little fantasy world. Pretty easy to set there and write your line of bull.Who is making up stuff here to defend there wrong way of doing things?I think the answer is quite obvious that it's you.As of right now you are wrong on everything you have said. Hey where is that "PINK SLIP" and I think the only business you are capable of running is the LYING section of your "Little Fabrication of Truth Plant.But please continue to humor us
  9. wreckerguy
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    wreckerguy - July 15, 2011 10:00 pm
    If these union jobs are so coveted, why am I paying my employees more than union scale? Why haven't any of my employees jumped ship and joined the union? Why have I added positions while others have scaled back? Why have I paid more taxes when everyone says corporations don't pay any? Why do I have ex-union members applying for job openings here? Questions, clancy, apparently you can't answer them. Don't worry about me being a loser and racing to the bottom. Your already there. Sucks don't it?
  10. wreckerguy
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    wreckerguy - July 15, 2011 9:52 pm
    clanc, my employees are all making more than you. No union dues either. You dont make more than me, I know that for a fact. While I probably havent paid myself salary some years that you claim to make, it is because I re-invested that money back into the business or employees. Thats what you call "questionable tax breaks". Get real, bud. You don't have a clue. I have seen your type come and go and they complain all the way. If I am such a bad employer, why are my employees all 10+ years?
  11. wreckerguy
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    wreckerguy - July 15, 2011 9:46 pm
    Thats right clancy, you never ran a business. Its because you can't. You don't have the ability to do so. You sir are a sheep. You follow. Keep bragging about your supreme wages, lol. Your a liar. You just like spouting off about how well paid you are and how valuable you are. But your not. Like I said, you never ran a business, never made a payroll. You will never "get it" and when the gravy train ends and the "pink slip" comes, you will blame everyone but yourself. Keep bottom feeding, lol
  12. rzbell
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    rzbell - July 15, 2011 8:39 am
    Shows big unions are really no different that corporations when it comes to politics. They both want their people in office for influence. I laugh when I hear them say its for the middle class. If it raises our taxes in the middle class how can it be for us. I am not rich, self-employed and when taxes totaled, over 50% paid to government on top of the Obamacare caused increase in medical insurance. Taxes raised, pay cut for me. Had enough shared sacrifice. Moore + Unions = More Taxes.
  13. Report Abuse
    - July 14, 2011 8:56 am
    I'm not saying I was over qualified. What I am saying is that I met all the qualifications that were posted on the job advertisement, the other guy was not.

    Had I gotten the job I would have been forced to join the union.

    It sounds like you said I should have joined the union before I interviewed. Basically I needed to pay the union money and then they would allow me to work?

    Think if doctors worked this way. You go in for surgery and get a substandard surgen, but his paid his dues.
  14. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 13, 2011 7:19 pm
    Hmmmmm Why are those jobs anymore coveted then say a job at Curt Manf.I know a guy who has been there for 6 years and makes $11.00 an hour, min benefits &60 hour weeks. He is savings anywhere from $40.00 to $100.00 a month not paying union dues. I worry about him though he needs that job and is 50+ years old it can be very physical. I know some young bucks who could outwork him. In merlins world they should bump him out.
  15. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 13, 2011 6:33 pm
    Were you signed and on the books? Maybe you were overqualified that is the excuse I keep hearing from alot of my fiends who are looking for a job in the non-union sector. Tell me how this differs from the non-union jobs. The answer to alot of questions when hirng is they hire from a qualified pool union or non union. If he was qualified and in the union he takes precedent over you.
  16. Report Abuse
    - July 13, 2011 7:57 am
    But Clancy, we will agree there are some coveted union jobs in the area. The only way to even get an interview is to know someone already. Is this fair?

    I understand what you said about the other guy. But, why is is OK for him to be allowed to be "trained" for the job and I am not? Just because his daddy already worked there? In fact daddy used to be a union rep. How is this good?
  17. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 13, 2011 5:28 am
    It's called senority my freind.Although you may have been more qualified at the time unions as a rule have excellent training programs and I'm sure the person they hired soon became as qualified as you.Also how about the non-union jobs where freinds and families are hired and promoted over more qualified people.At age 55 a younger more vibrant worker can actually outwork an older employee is that reason to throw him out.In Merlins world it is.Disreguard wreckerguy.He always ask the same question
  18. Report Abuse
    - July 12, 2011 8:17 pm
    Clancy,

    You have every right to support your union. But let's try to be adults here, do you think the insults are productive?

    I do have a question. At one time I applied for a job that was union. I did not get it because someone who already was in the union applied for it. I was far more qualified than the other guy, the one who interviewed me even told me some time later that it was wrong he had to hire the other guy. Do you think it's right to hire someone less qualified in this case?
  19. Clancy G
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    Clancy G - July 11, 2011 8:06 pm
    then your gross for the year. I can only imagine if your the boss how badly your employees must be paid.Bet your takin every questionable tax deduction there is. I'm makin a great wage and proud to contribute as much as possible to this great country.Hey did you blow your whole life's savings on that 4 day weekend in the Dells Loser. Wrecker guy racin to the bottom and dragin as many as he can with him.
  20. Clancy G
    Report Abuse
    Clancy G - July 11, 2011 7:58 pm
    Hey wreckerguy Your limited intellegeice continues to show #1 I have still not received that PINK SLIP and now #2 I will type as slow as I can for you NO I HAVE NOT EVER RUN A BUSINESS OR MADE PAYROLL for the 5th time OK got that. #3 If I did run a business I would do extensive research to find out what you do to make sure that I didn't start that business as It looks like from your earlier statements that I would have to cut my current union income by 60%. I make more in overtime then you
  21. mark
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    mark - July 11, 2011 4:16 am
    I hope all you good proud republicans are watching your bretheren in washington bankrupt and destroy this country. Truly amazing how childlike the republicans are. Good luck in 2012.
  22. wreckerguy
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    wreckerguy - July 09, 2011 2:06 pm
    Clancy G said- "were only 12%."

    And shrinking by the minute. Unions have more money to spend on the ones they want in power but have shrinking members. The last gasp of a dying giant. Bye bye, the gravy train is about to be packed up and be put away for good. But I am sure you will post a bunch of inane drivel as to why we are wrong and you are right. By the way, have you ever owned a business? Ever had to make payroll? Nope. You haven't got a clue........
  23. wdasec2
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    wdasec2 - July 09, 2011 11:27 am
    Merlin is spot on. Obama has got to go! Other than the liberal left, I cannot imagine anyone voting for someone who wants to give us a European socialist form of government. Socialism is a failure. One only has to look at Greece.
    Regarding the re-call elections, unions are pouring money into these elections because they want power. They are only looking out for themselves and not the people. The spending spigot needs to be turned off. Electing liberals will only open it up.
  24. Merlin
    Report Abuse
    Merlin - July 09, 2011 10:12 am
    Obama out of office is a start but by no means the end. Let's kick out some more of the Washington Elite, then get the freshman and sophomores to listen to us and impose term limits.

    It's time for change, not a roll back to FDR on steroids.
  25. Merlin
    Report Abuse
    Merlin - July 09, 2011 10:05 am
    mark said: "Merlin: You find me a conservative and be glad to vote for him or her. You kidding yourself..."

    I think the only one kidding themselves is you. 1/2 of this debt was accumulated by the Democratically controlled Congress from 2007 through 2010. For 2 years Obama had a blank check and he used it - with almost 75% of that coming under his Presidency.

    I will vote for anyone who has the guts to slash spending across the board - it has to stop now.

  26. Clancy G
    Report Abuse
    Clancy G - July 09, 2011 10:03 am
    Hey Merlin what are you worried about. As you always say were only 12%.
  27. mark
    Report Abuse
    mark - July 08, 2011 7:28 pm
    Merlin: You find me a conservative and be glad to vote for him or her. You kidding yourself. If this country had any kind of conservatives we would'nt have a 14 trillion dollar debt right now. But once Obama is out of office ALL WE BE WELL. Keep kidding yourself !
  28. Merlin
    Report Abuse
    Merlin - July 08, 2011 1:26 pm
    If you take away 100% of every company's revenue, every rich persons fortune, you wouldn't even make a dent in the national debt. Now, liberals have limited that only to evil right leaning companies and rich folk - and that is their answer to fix all of our economic problems.

    Tax, spend, increase entitlements, decrease the tax base - how's that hopey changey thing working out for you? This is the only thing the left has to offer and to date, it has never worked, not ever in our history...
  29. Merlin
    Report Abuse
    Merlin - July 08, 2011 1:21 pm
    Spending millions to elect someone who will pander to you and give you access to tax payer money using the full force of the State of Wisconsin is perfectly OK!

    If a company, or rich citizen donates to a Democratic political campaign it's OK!

    Any support to a conservative is wrong, should be banned, and those evil companies, and rich citizens should have all of their money taken away for the greater good of all.

    Problem is, most of the companies and rich are flaming liberals. What then?
  30. youknowme
    Report Abuse
    youknowme - July 08, 2011 11:15 am
    Those darn big evil corporations spending millions on elections. How could they ever have the peoples' best interest in mind. Er wait...darn it...i meant to say utopia wonderful Unions.
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