The Koch brothers’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity, spent heavily in Wisconsin in 2010 to ensure that Scott Walker was one of the many extreme Conservative Republicans swept into office by that year’s Tea Party wave. Over the course of his first term as Governor, Walker and his allies have steered Wisconsin to the far right, cutting education spending by $800 million, working to block an increase to the state’s minimum wage and at the same time, giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy. Led by Walker, the state’s Republican legislature introduced an assault on collective bargaining rights that effectively cut public workers’ pay and destroyed their ability to negotiate over health coverage, safety, or sick leave.
When Walker’s extreme policies were at issue in the 2012 recall election, AFP spent $10 million promoting his — and the Kochs — political agenda. Walker’s current campaign for reelection has also benefited from Koch support, with AFP pledging to spend just shy of $1 million in ads touting the governor’s policies. One of Walker’s first actions after the recall election was to sign a pro-mining bill into law, the language of which had been largely informed by a significant donor to the Wisconsin Club for Growth (another Koch-backed entity), the mining company Gogebic Taconite. AFP has issued mailers in the mining area of Northern Wisconsin touting the measure, though not without bending the truth to inflate the benefits of the controversial law and help pad Walker’s job creation credentials.
The Kochs’ have a history of ideological disdain for campaign finance laws, not to mention that these measures often interfere with their inclination to spend freely on behalf of their favorite candidates, like Walker. A federal judge in Wisconsin happens to share some of these views, which is perhaps not surprising given that he has attended multiple expenses paid junkets funded by the billionaire brothers. In the last two months alone, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa has issued two rulings favorable to the Koch brothers, their myriad political groups, and Walker’s campaign. In September, he removed an existing limit on PAC and political party campaign contributions to gubernatorial candidates, which Walker’s campaign quickly exploited to the tune of almost $2 million. Just weeks before Election Day, Randa made an injunction halting Wisconsin’s longstanding ban on coordination between political campaigns and outside groups — like those funded by the Kochs — so long as the groups are engaging in so-called “issue advocacy.”
From the initial Tea Party wave of 2010, through his 2012 recall election, to 2014, the Koch brothers and Scott Walker have teamed up to implement a far right agenda in Wisconsin. Walker’s policies mirror the Kochs’ extreme agenda, which is why the self-serving billionaires and their allies are spending heavily in the hopes of winning four more years for Walker. As Wisconsinites head to the polls on Election Day, they should bear in mind that a vote for Scott Walker is a vote for four more years of the Koch brothers’ political agenda.