Gov. Scott Walker’s Campaign Donors are Getting Lucrative State Contracts
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign finance records reveal that his campaign contributors are receiving lucrative state contracts.
In southeastern Wisconsin, foreign corporation Foxconn Technology is leading a $4.5 billion project subsidized by taxpayers to construct a new tech factory. The project, which is $1 billion more than was originally estimated, is costing each household roughly $1,774 and has a 34 percent voter approval rate.
Scott Walker’s campaign finance records show that more than $582,000 of his contributions have come from individuals associated with companies that are now being awarded contracts at the Foxconn construction project. For example, County Materials Corporation contributed $26,000 to Walker since 2010, and Kapur Associates has given $91,000 since 2008.
What’s even more concerning is that this isn’t the first time businesses have tried to buy his support. A report released in 2015 reveals that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which Gov. Walker created, gave out 60 percent of its economic development awards to individuals who contributed to his campaign. Some of the top contributors include J.F. Ahern Co. who gave Walker $35,403 and received a $7.4 million WEDC award, and Northstar Medical Radioisotopes, who gave $532,100 and won a $2 million award. The political contributions to Walker totaled $2.1 million and the contracts awarded through the WEDC totaled over $700 million.
The Bottom Line: This certainly looks like pay-to-play politics. Politicians should always seek to represent the best interests of their constituents, not their special interest donors.
Montana Gov. Sues IRS Over Loosening of Dark Money Restrictions
Gov. Steve Bullock is fighting back against last week’s Treasury Dept. announcement that dark money groups no longer have to share donor information with the IRS.
Last week, we published a story explaining the Treasury Department’s announcement that dark money groups no longer have to share donor information with the IRS. Ultimately, the new regulation (or really, de-regulation) removed one of the last strongholds for tracking the millions of anonymous dollars that pour into elections from 501(c)4’s. It is not great news for campaign finance reformers.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been a very vocal advocate for campaign finance reform over the course of his career. Among his reforms are a law requiring dark money groups to disclose how they’re spending money in state races, and an executive order requiring state contractors to report political spending. Now, he’s leading the fight against the Treasury Department’s new decision to keep dark money…well, in the dark.
Gov. Bullock is suing to block the decision, claiming that the Administration openly ignored government process, particularly under the Administrative Procedure Act. “The goal of the litigation,” he said, “is to make sure that dark money and foreign money isn’t flowing into our elections unchecked.” Even if the lawsuit fails, Gov. Bullock vows to protect Montana from this secrecy by passing strict state regulations on dark money, and he hopes other states will as well.
The Bottom Line: Millions of anonymous dollars already flood our elections, and this change gives 501(c)4’s even more places to hide.
Antiquated Disclosure Process Allows Senators to Mislead the Public
Senate candidates aren’t required to file their financial disclosure forms electronically, allowing them to exaggerate how well their campaigns are really doing.
Somehow, the United States Senate has made it to 2018 without having to digitize their financial disclosure forms. This is even more surprising when you consider that Senate candidates are the only ones not required by the Federal Election Commission to submit these forms electronically. This antiquated system costs taxpayers over $900,000 every year to process the forms and significantly delays – if not entirely blocks – the public’s right to review the forms (and any possible conflicts of interest) before they vote.
A wave of financial reports are being released with the close of the second quarter, and they are revealing yet another problem with the paper forms: politicians are misleading the press.
At least two candidates so far have used the lag time between the submission deadline and publication date of their forms to falsely bolster their campaign war chests for impressive headlines. Indiana Senate candidate Mike Braun, for example, said he raised “$2.5 million with over $1 million cash on hand at quarter close, including nearly $1.5 million raised since the day after the primary.” The campaign also claimed Braun hadn’t personally contributed anything. Yet, his FEC report – which isn’t yet available online – shows that Braun kicked in $1 million of the $2.5 million himself.
In an effort to create transparency and update this process, Senators have attached a rider to an appropriations bill that would require candidates to file electronically. On June 25, the Senate passed it with an overwhelming 86-5 vote, and now it must be reconciled with a version of the legislation passed earlier in June. It’s unclear if the shift to digital will actually happen as similar efforts in the past (the bill has been introduced in every Congress since 2003) have failed.
The Bottom Line: Not only is this inefficient process an example of wasteful government spending at the taxpayer’s expense, but it also allows politicians to mislead the public about who is funding their campaign and buying their influence.
That’s all for this week, folks. If you have a corruption story you’d like to see covered here, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org