Pro-Falk Group Buying Ads in Wisconsin

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that a newly-formed political group has purchased air time in 5 Wisconsin markets to run TV ads promoting Kathleen Falk. Falk is campaigning to become the Democratic nominee against Governor Scott Walker in an almost certain upcoming recall election.

The group calling itself “Wisconsin for Falk” registered as a Special Interest Committee with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) within the last week, but it’s not clear who serves on the committee or who is funding the TV ads. Here is an image of the their registration form at the GAB:


Michael Vaughn is the Treasurer. He lists a Minneapolis telephone number. The group itself lists a Madison telephone number. Bice reports that messages left have not been returned. The group’s first ad can be viewed here.

Their ad includes a disclaimer at the end saying the ad was not authorized by any candidate, candidate’s agent or committee.

Really?

The Scott Walker campaign was quick to speculate that the funding came from labor unions that have endorsed Falk. You probably know the tune…big union bosses, blah, blah, blah. Walker has been the beneficiary of advertising from similar political action groups, and he has spent the past few months traveling to out-of-state fundraisers at every opportunity picking up donations that total over 12 million dollars.

Mike McCabe of the non-partisan watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign gave a persuasive argument at last year’s Fighting Bob Fest that the legalized bribery now funding most campaigns has to be fixed before we attempt to fix anything else. I thought about McCabe’s speech when I was perusing the Wisconsin for Falk registration form, and when I read Scott Walker’s hypocritical response. The legendary Ed Garvy, the organizer of Fighting Bob Fest, has pointed out that the Democratic candidate in the recall election will not be able to compete with Walker on spending. Not even close. Garvey suggests that the eventual candidate should forget the outside funding and make Walker’s secret, out-of-state money the major issue.

I wish one of the candidates would pledge to do that. I really do.

Wisconsin Recall: Shooting the Moon

In his desperation to stay in office, Governor Scott Walker is throwing huge sums of bad money after more bad money. In fact, the only thing he has going for him is moola, most of it from out of state. Well, that, and a “quirk in state law” that enables a politician being targeted with recall to raise unlimited funds while the signatures are being collected and counted.

Walker raised more than $1 million per week from mid-December to mid-January. According to Mike McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, “The governor has raised more than any candidate for any state office in Wisconsin history.” And he can continue to raise unlimited funds for another couple of months while the recall signatures are being counted.

Not having any quirks in their favor, Walker’s opponents are just not going to be able to compete with him in the fundraising department. But there’s a crucial arena in which Walker can’t hope to compete with his opponents: people. One million signatures that can be translated to 1 million votes against Scott Walker. Ed Garvey, creator of the Fighting Bob Fest, crows that “that would be like a football team starting on the 30 yard line of the opponent.”

Even more important than those 1 million signers are the 30,000 Wisconsinites who worked tirelessly for two months to collect a total of 1.9 million signatures, including more than enough signatures to recall Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, and four state senators. It’s highly unlikely that those 30,000 will retreat to their living room couches for the remainder of the recall fight.

But there’s still the very real concern of how to answer the deluge of big money pouring into Walker’s campaign. Ruth Conniff at the Progressive describes Ed Garvey’s wild idea of how to address that concern:

Instead of trying to compete and raise tens of millions of dollars, whichever candidate emerges to take on Walker should try to “shoot the moon,” Garvey says. That means rejecting money from PACs, super PACs, corporations, unions, and, especially, out of state donors.

Instead of turning over the energized, grassroots recall effort to the professionals to wage a TV ad war costing millions of dollars, Garvey wants to see a recall election that looks a lot like the campaign to gather the signatures to recall the governor in the first place.

This idea … will draw a lot of skepticism, to say the least. After all, what kind of a winning strategy calls for unilateral disarmament? Letting Walker rule the airwaves might be the dumbest thing a candidate could do. Political suicide.

Or, it just might be a stroke of brilliance.

Ed Garvey
Ed Garvey at the 2011 Fighting Bob Fest

I submit that Garvey’s idea would be a really gutsy stroke of brilliance.

Contrary to what Xoff at Uppity Wisconsin suggests, the idea is not that Walker’s opponents shouldn’t raise any money at all. It’s that they should be very particular about where the money they accept comes from. And Garvey does not suggest that Walker’s opponents should be passive, as Xoff decries. Far from it! In fact, to be successful, a squeaky-clean people-powered campaign would require more hard work from candidates and volunteers alike than the usual money-driven negative-ad extravaganza.

Xoff cites the recent Florida GOP primary as evidence of the efficacy of negative television ads. But that election is a very different kettle of fish than the Wisconsin recall. That election presented a choice between candidates that voters show a distinct lack of enthusiasm for. It’s not as if any of the GOP contestants are drumming up much in the way of people power.

In other words, the Florida GOP primary is a quintessential case of politics as usual, whereas the Wisconsin recall is anything but. In Wisconsin we have more grassroots momentum than the United States has seen since the civil rights movement. It’s worth remembering that since the Wisconsin uprising started nearly a year ago, we have also seen the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement all across the country and indeed around the world. The sleeping giant has awoken. We the people are fired up.

We’re incensed about big money calling all the shots in our government. We’re fed up with cronyism and backroom pay-to-play dealing. We’re infuriated by elected “representatives” who listen only to money and never to constituents. We’re sick of having to vote for a “lesser of evils.”

This is a singular moment in which the people are as engaged as they’re ever likely to be. And that means we have the opportunity to do more than just kick Walker out. This is nothing less than our chance to directly address the corruption of big-money-driven “legalized bribery” that is our current political system.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

As Garvey argues, “The real question in the recall is not which heavily financed politician will run enough ads to win. It’s whether our democracy has finally completely collapsed. This battle in Wisconsin is, finally, a battle over who will rule—millionaires and billionaires who want to buy our state government for their own nefarious purposes, or the people of the state.”

Roll up your sleeves, Wisconsin. This is our moment to shoot the moon.

Fighting Bob Fest Number Two: A post by micwazoo

This is a guest post by @micwazoo a must-follow guy on twitter. He’s from Marshfield, Wisconsin. If you’d like to see the speeches he mentions, several of them are available at this post of mine and directly through ontheearthproduction on YouTube.

I always like to reflect on events after I attend them, and again after attending my second Fighting Bob Fest event yesterday in Madison, I was left with a feeling of hope.  Hope that together we can turn this country around.  Hope that my children might be able to have a better life than me.  Hope that I may yet still be able to retire at a pre 70 age.

The day started out with Mike McCab­e speaking to us, and reiterating the fact that we have a huge disparity in income in this country, and how imperative it is that we do what we can to reduce that.  Mike mentioned growing up in Clark county, and I can remember when I moved to Marshfield how many roads around here, and especially in Clark county were gravel.  In the 13 years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen some roads starting to be paved, but like Mike mentioned, again we are seeing those paved road turned into gravel roads because of a lack of dollars for roads.  What struck me most when Mike spoke was just how much the middle class has lost in the past 20 years.  A lot of great points were made and the crowd was energized.

Next was Tony Schultz, one of the most energizing young voices in the progressive movement I have ever heard speak.  His passion for farming and maintaining the family farm is very evident.  I was very impressed with Tony’s integrity, when he told us how he quit working for a construction company that was building mega farms, because ethically he knew it was wrong.  This was despite the fact that the money he made was being used to help pay for college, but at the age of 19, he knew that what he was doing was helping to cause the extinction of the family farm.  I realized after Tony shared his story, that I needed to also be willing to endure some fiscal discomfort in order to do my part in this fight against the corporate takeover of all areas of our lives.  I’m fortunate because in central Wisconsin, I have access to more small farm food than most others do.  I vow to do what I can to help keep my money flowing to the local farmer.

Ellen Bravo shed new light on the issues women face in the workplace, that I was partially unaware of.  It saddens me that in today’s world, employers are still allowed to fire someone because the feel that taking care of their children is more important than any job.  It’s ironic how many of these same people who pull this stunt are the same ones who spend Sunday’s in church and vote pro-life.  When a single mother is faced with those type of choices, we have, as a community, done a great disservice to our women and children in that society.

Reiterating a lot of what Mike McCabe had said, Dave Obey drove home the fact that the rich and our corporations are doing their damned best to widen the wealth disparity at any cost.  Dave Obey has experience that we progressives need to tap into.  He has seen this current movement from the right coming for some time, and he knows how vital it is for us to slow and eventually stop the beast that is the current Republican Party.  I totally agree.

The afternoon was so energetic, with Cornel West firing us up with albeit brief but powerful message that we must not stop the fight to maintain the rights of the poor and middle class.  We all need to stick together if we are to tame the beast.  

Thom Hartmann shared some things about ALEC that I had not heard before, and I was glad to hear that information shared with the audience.  It’s amazing how few people actually are aware of what is taking place in this country with ALEC, and I’m glad a voice like Thom’s is shouting out what ALEC is doing to all of us.  Some of the information shared by Greg Palast was not so much a surprise as it was a total disappointment to know just how corrupt our government is getting, and to what length’s they are willing to go to protect their corporate interests.

Bernie Sanders, what can I say.  Bernie is one hell of a senator, and I hope the people of Vermont realize what a true gem they have in Bernie.  He’s truly one of the last voices of the non-corporate world we have left representing us at a national level.  His passion and spirit are so infectious, it’s hard not to feel energized after listening to Bernie speak.  Although a lot of what I heard was disheartening, I was left again feeling hope that with Bernie watching over Social Security, I know that’s one area I don’t have to worry about too much.  I trust Bernie to do what’s right for us.  Bernie is a real hero in my eyes, and it was so great to hear him in person, so passionate about what he believes in.

Tammy Baldwin and John Nichols really did a great job of firing us all up, and really driving home again the fact that together, we can turn this right wing trend around.  It won’t be an overnight change, but with courage and tenacity, together we can restore this country to what our founding fathers had in mind.  Not a corporate welfare haven, but a country of, by, and for the people.

I look forward to attending the next Fighting Bob Fest, and to continue our fight to return our government to the people.

More of my photos from Bob Fest are HERE.