Will Dooling's News Articles

Outside Money Frames Candidates for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate Seat

After a close primary, the race to fill Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat is now underway, with former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson facing off against Madison's U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin. Both campaigns have sizable campaign coffers at their disposal, yet both are being assailed by huge ad buys coming from outside the state. The pro-Thompson ads come from "dark money" nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors, despite raising and spending unlimited funds for the election. The pro-Baldwin ads are aired by big-spending Super PACs that also have no limits on raising or spending but must disclose the source of their funds.

Crossroads GPS Spins Lies in North Dakota Senate Race

Karl Rove's dark money group Crossroads GPS is telling whoppers again, this time in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in North Dakota. The ad claims Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic candidate running against Republican Rep. Rick Berg, purchased private planes using taxpayer dollars during her tenure as the state's Attorney General, charges Heitkamp says are "completely false." The $191,000 ad buy began airing on August 8th, but was pulled off the air by the 10th. Crossroads GPS recently aired a new version of the ad with only minor changes.

Corporate "Sin-Washing" -- Embracing the Olympic Brand Pays Off for Sponsors

Global corporations like Dow Chemical, Adidas, and McDonald's are paying upwards of $100 million USD to sponsor the 2012 London games and associate themselves with the Olympic brand -- but with their brands already well-established, what do corporations get in exchange for these expensive sponsorship deals?

Dueling Right-Wing SuperPACs Battle for "the Future of the Party" in Texas

The close race to pick the GOP candidate for Texas' open U.S. Senate seat is attracting national attention, with establishment GOP funders battling it out with Tea Party Super PACs to tilt today's runoff election.

Club For Growth Attacks Thompson and Hovde in WI Senate Race

The battle to decide the Republican candidate for Wisconsin's open U.S. Senate seat is heating up. The Super PAC for the national organization Club for Growth, which supports Mark Neumann in the four-way primary, recently spent $700,000 airing an ad attacking Neumann's top challengers: multi-millionaire hedge fund manager Eric Hovde and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. Both have a significant lead over Neumann (the ad ignores the fourth primary candidate, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald).

What Really Happens When Parents Pull the "Parent Trigger?"

By Will Dooling and Brendan Fischer

Democrats at the U.S. Conference of Mayors have recently backed "parent trigger" laws that allow parents to seize control of their public schools and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize the schools -- a policy also supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

Is the "Parent Trigger" a successful plan for empowering parents and promoting school reform, or is it a vehicle for the private takeover of public schools?

Koch's Americans for Prosperity Campaign Draws Some Relatively Small Crowds--from Wisconsin and Elsewhere

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has spent as much as 10 million dollars in Wisconsin in recent months influencing the potential recall of Governor Scott Walker, whose administration has been backed by AFP. Walker's election in 2010 was funded in part by AFP's chairman, David Koch, for example through the Koch Industries PAC and a one million dollar donation to the Republican Governors Association (RGA). AFP has claimed its multi-bus, multi-city tour across the state the week before election day and millions in ads and other expenditures have nothing to do with the election.

One of the many questions being raised about AFP is what, if anything, its massive investment in retaining the status quo is buying.

The Washington, DC-based special interest group -- co-founded and -funded by Mr. Koch, a New York City-based oil billionaire -- has gone all-out in the final week of the recall, spending on ads, rallies, buses, canvassers, and phone banks. The group, a non-profit, keeps repeating its claims to the press that it is simply informing Wisconsin residents about economic issues, not engaging in election activities reserved for politicians, parties, and PACs -- all of which report both their donors/donation amounts and all their campaign expenses to the public for accountability, unlike AFP.

Koch-Fueled Event Brings out Tea Partiers for Walker and Kleefisch from Wisconsin and other States

Buses paid for by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP), as part of its "Better Wisconsin" tour, and the Tea Party Express, with its "Reclaiming America" bus tour, converged in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday evening.

Both groups, which do not disclose who is bankrolling their operations, are touring Wisconsin on the eve of the election to rally voters to back controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his allies facing recall. AFP, a non-profit under the tax code and not a registered PAC, has claimed its bus tour has nothing to do with the pending recall election; the Center for Media and Democracy has asked AFP to reveal who is funding its campaign, and the director of its state operations has refused. The Tea Party Express has also previously indicated that as a non-profit group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code it need not disclose its funders.

Citizens United Unleashed in Wisconsin Recall

  • Topics: Democracy
  • Recent campaign filings show Governor Scott Walker raising over $30 million to defend himself against recall versus $3.9 million raised by his challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett is being outspent 12:1, but even these numbers do not account for the full amount of spending in the race. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, an array of outside groups are playing a major role in elections and Wisconsin is no exception.

    Wisconsin's historic recall battle may be seen as a test of grassroots gumption (30,000 volunteers collected close to one million recall signatures) against big outside money in a post-Citizen's United world. With less than a week before the election, spending numbers regarding these outside interest groups are changing by the hour. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) is working hard to track the money and illuminate exactly how high the spending outside of the candidates will go. Right now, WDC pegs total spending in the race at $62 million, including at least $21.4 million in disclosed spending by outside groups in addition to an estimated $7.5 million in undisclosed spending on so-called "issue ads" designed to influence the election.

    Here is a brief look at the five biggest outside interest groups spending in Wisconsin's 2012 recall.

    ALEC: Desperate for Dough?

    As a stampede of global corporations drop their membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing organization is apparently desperate for funds.

    Several public interest organizations, including the Center for Media and Democracy, Color of Change, Common Cause, People for the American Way, CREDO and others have been asking corporations to stop funding ALEC for its role in helping spread policies like voter suppression and "Shoot First." In the last two weeks, some of America's largest corporations, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, MARS, Intuit, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Kraft Foods have announced they will not be renewing their ALEC membership. ALEC receives ninety-eight percent of its funding from its corporate members and from foundations, and only through this funding can ALEC advance its agenda.

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