Wisconsin’s ‘Defeat the Recall’ campaign largely funded by out-of-state donors
An email circulated Wednesday by a super PAC trying to drum up support for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) seems to have accidentially revealed that the “Defeat the Recall” campaign is being primarilly funded by individuals who do not live in Wisconsin.
The super PAC, which is registered out of California, is focused on the Walker campaign as a secondary effort. Their actual name is “The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama,” but they’ve taken up supporting Walker as a key electoral front in 2012.
Out of 336 entries on the donor list circulated Wednesday, only 18 are Wisconsin residents — something that could pose trouble for Republicans if the state’s Democrats seize upon that fact. The group’s first Federal Election Commission filing also reflected that trend, listing just nine donors who gave more than $200, with not a single one from Wisconsin.
“Scott Walker is raising millions of dollars, and about 17 percent of it comes from within Wisconsin,” Lynn Freeman, executive director of United Wisconsin, a super PAC supporting the recall efforts, told Raw Story on Wednesday. “I think this mirrors that.”
“Scott Walker, the policies of [the American Legislative Exchange] and the Koch brothers don’t have a lot of support in Wisconsin,” she added. “There is a national agenda going on here that Scott Walker is trying to facilitate and serve. I think that the donor list in this email reflects the same kind of picture as Scott Walker’s own fundraising.”
The “Defeat the Recall” email Wednesday focused on a ruling issued this week by Judge David Flanagan, which temporarily bars enforcement of a voter identification law passed last year by the state’s Republicans. The law requires voters to present a state-issued photo ID when they cast ballots in federal, state and local elections. Other photo IDs, such as technical college and veteran ID cards, cannot be used.
Similar efforts have been carried out in other Republican-dominated states and Democrats almost always cry foul, claiming Republicans are attempting to drive down turnout. Voter identification requirements have been empirically shown to mostly affect the poor, minorities, students and the elderly, because those groups are most likely to not carry state issued photo identifications. Those groups are also most likely to vote for Democrats.
Republicans insist the law is needed to prevent widespread voter fraud, but there is virtually no evidence of organized efforts to subvert elections in the U.S.
Following the judge’s decision, Wisconsin Republicans immediately called for Flanagan to be investigated due to his signature appearing on the Walker recall petition, and the state’s GOP followed-up with a formal complaint on Wednesday. “Defeat the Recall” also suggested that Flanagan is a “liberal,” although he was appointed to the bench by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican.
In their official complaint, Wisconsin GOP spokesman Ben Sparks claimed that the judge’s bias in the case is clear, namely due to Walker being listed as a defendant. In spite of this, the voter identification lawsuit does not officially have anything to do with the Walker recall campaign.
“Governor Walker is a defendant in that very case, so basically you have a conflict of interest here,” Sparks told Raw Story. “If a judge has made public his political opposition to a defendant in the case over when he’s presiding, that represents a clear bias on his part and a clear conflict of interest.”
He added that United Wisconsin has listed the voter identification law as one of their grievances against Walker, and opined that Flanagan “should have recused himself.” Sparks refused to comment on any super PAC activities.
“We had over 1 million people sign the recall petition,” Freeman said. “We may have had even more, I don’t know, because they were still pouring in on the last day. So, we have over a million signatures, compared to less than 17 percent of [Walker’s] money coming in from people out of state. I think that sends a strong message that Scott Walker has lost the support of the people in the state of Wisconsin. I’m sure he wants to tell a different story, but that is what the facts are.”
It’s not yet clear if Walker’s career will survive the recall election: a recent survey (PDF) by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found 49 percent opposed to the recall and 49 percent in favor. Additionally, 52 percent said they disapprove of the governor’s job performance.
The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama super PAC did not respond to a request for comment.