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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Scott Walker’s National Fundraising Spree Continues

Spares no expense on private jets and luxury hotels to meet donors

Scott Walker
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Gov. Scott Walker may be running for re-election as governor of Wisconsin, but his life on the campaign trail is more likely to be lived by a guy who aspires to the presidency. Walker raised more than $8.6 million in 2013, $5.1 million of it during the second half of the year, according to campaign finance reports released at the end of January. 

As he did during his recall fight, Walker networked with right-wing donors around the country who cannot cast a ballot for him but want to influence the outcome of Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election anyway. According to an analysis by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 54% of Walker’s 2013 contributions came from out of state. About $2.4 million of those out-of-state dollars came from donors who gave more than $1,000.

Walker seems to have had fun spending $4.8 million throughout the year. He visited golf resorts, picked up awards, spoke at a Beverly Hills event, hung out with billionaires and spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on private jets. Not bad for a guy with a high school diploma.

Here’s the breakdown of Walker’s latest campaign finance report:

High Donors: Walker seems to be one of the favorite sons of the DeVos family of Grand Rapids, Mich. Heirs to the Amway fortune, they’re major tea party, school voucher and Republican benefactors. In total, DeVos family members donated $100,000 to Walker this year; they’d given $250,000 to Walker’s recall defense previously. The governor also racked up major bills at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, right before some of the big checks started rolling in.

But Walker’s big donors are scattered all over the country. They include Rufus and Patricia Lumry of Bellevue, Wash.; retired Texas businessman Allen Questrom, who sits on the board of the Koch brothers’ American Enterprise Institute; Nashville health care investor Andrew Miller; Chicago billionaire Patrick G. Ryan; Annette Simmons, widow of Dallas corporate raider Harold Simmons; Republican attorney and FreedomWorks board director C. Boyden Gray; and former ambassador and major Bush donor Bob Tuttle of Beverly Hills. Investor Stephen Plaster of Lebanon, Mo., who attended a 2012 closed-door executive roundtable meeting of the Republican Governors Association with Walker and his wife, Tonette, gave him a $9,630 in-kind donation.

Wisconsin big donors include Lou Gentine of Sargento Foods, David Baum of SSI Technologies, Marquette University donor Barbara Klein of Hartland, Barbara Lynch of Whitefish Bay, Billie Kubly of River Hills, distressed asset investor Bruce Hendry, Mike Eisenga of Columbus, who’d tried to get his child support lowered via an act of the state Legislature, John Koss of Koss Corp. and Russ Darrow.

ALEC Corporate Members Give Big: Walker netted $122,765 from special-interest groups through political action committees (PACs). Wisconsin-based groups that supported him represent insurance and financial planners, workers in the trades, dentists, health care providers, restaurant owners, truck operators, Realtors, bankers and the Forest County Potawatomi, which oppose a proposed rival casino being built in Kenosha.

But Walker was also the recipient of special-interest money from members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national corporate bill mill that develops right-wing special-interest legislation, including telecom deregulation, right to work laws, voter suppression proposals and the infamous “stand your ground” bill. Member legislators then introduce those bills in statehouses around the country. Walker was an ALEC member when he was a state legislator and continues to support its pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda.

ALEC members’ PACs that donated to Walker in the second half of 2013 include tobacco giant Altria, Eli Lilly, Honeywell International, CenturyLink, the National Federation of Independent Business, the for-profit education services company Bridgeport Education, Marathon Petroleum and Zeneca. The PACs of corporations that left ALEC after the Trayvon Martin murder and donated to Walker include those of General Electric, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sprint and the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

On the Road: Walker and his campaign staff crisscrossed the country, making stops in Bellevue, Wash., Santa Monica, San Francisco, Aspen, Montgomery, Nashville, Denver, Kansas City, Little Rock, Mackinac Island and Grand Rapids in Michigan, Des Moines, Boston, New York City and Westchester County, N.Y.

Walker and his staffers stayed in high-end hotels and resorts including the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, the Four Seasons in New York and Washington, D.C., the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, the Grand Del Mar Resort north of San Diego, and the Doral Arrowwood in Westchester County, N.Y. They racked up charges at tony golf clubs such as the Willow Run Golf Club in Redmond, Wash., and the Creeks Golf Course in Arkansas.

Private Jets: Walker certainly spares no expense when traveling. He racked up more than $212,000 on private jets in the second half of 2013, bringing the total for the year to $332,000.

The Cash Grab: Walker’s campaign spent more than $107,391 on fundraisers, mostly in Wisconsin, and more than $1.2 million on out-of-state campaign advisors and fundraising efforts. Venues included the Pfister Hotel, University Club Milwaukee, the Pabst Theater, Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield, Brett Favre’s Steakhouse in Green Bay, the Wisconsin Club, La Casa de Esperanza in Waukesha, the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, the Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Egg Harbor, the and the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.

Helen Johnson-Leipold, S.C. Johnson heiress, chair of Johnson Financial Group and chair and CEO of Johnson Outdoors, held a fundraiser for him, as did the Wisconsin Builders Association’s Building a Better Wisconsin, as well as Greg Porter, chair of the Washington Policy Center, which gave Walker an award in September. The Washington Policy Center is a member of the corporate mill-bill ALEC and the State Policy Network, the Koch- and ALEC-connected group of right-wing “think tanks” that create allegedly academic policy proposals that are the basis of pro-corporate bills adopted by ALEC and disseminated throughout the country by conservative lawmakers.

Out-of-State Consultants: Walker employs a number of Wisconsin-based consultants to help him fund and run his campaign and he paid $86,264 to former U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic, who is helping the governor with his many legal issues.

But the vast majority of Walker’s spending on campaign advisors and experts in the second half of the year—close to $1.2 million—was sent out of state, where he’s trying to raise his national profile in a bid to run for president in 2016 and rake in right-wing money from billionaires and millionaires around the country who support Walker but cannot cast a vote in Wisconsin. Some of Walker’s out-of-state consultants include the New Hampshire-based Republican fundraisers SCM Associates, which touts its ties to failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney ($836,427), the Tarrance Group pollsters in Virginia ($155,270), the conservative, Texas-based Doner Fundraising ($146,376), the Jackson-Alvarez Group, D.C.-based GOP campaign consultants ($21,200), the Virginia-based Right Strategies ($17,000) and the for-profit Republican opposition research group America Rising LLC, founded by Romney’s former campaign manager, Tim Miller ($10,000).

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