John Doe Docs Reveal Wisconsin Club for Growth’s $1 Million Donor

Aug. 26, 2014
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New court documents briefly made public in the John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s alleged “criminal scheme” revealed how the governor solicited funds for an outside group—the Wisconsin Club for Growth, controlled by his own campaign operative, R.J. Johnson. Walker admitted to doing this very thing, but says he did nothing wrong. Wisconsin campaign finance law may say otherwise. 

A portion of one of the documents reveals that in 2011 and 2012 Walker’s campaign aides urged him to raise funds for the club. It then details Walker’s meetings or calls with big donors and the big contributions that were sent to Wisconsin Club for Growth’s coffers.

The document names names, something that the donors probably wanted to hide. (Otherwise, they’d simply give to Walker’s campaign account, which has to reveal the sources of its donations.)

In doing so, the prosecutors appear to name the Wisconsin Club for Growth’s $1 million donor, an identity that had puzzled me and frustrated me when I received the club’s tax forms.

And that $1 million donor appears to be Steven Cohen, founder and manager of SAC Capital Advisors.

According to the document:


Ummm... who?

Worth an estimated $11 billion, Steven Cohen is a hedge fund king whose firm, SAC Capital, was indicted for insider trading in July 2013. Cohen himself wasn’t charged by the feds, but his firm had to go out of business and now operates as a family office called Point72 that can only manage his own money—not investors’. The company also had to pay a record $1.8 billion settlement to put it all behind them.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan had been after him for seven years and was able to bust eight of SAC’s current or former employees for insider trading. The case against Cohen has been detailed brilliantly in Vanity Fair and by PBS’s “Frontline.”

Cohen is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission proceeding, which alleges that he failed to adequately supervise his employees.

Cohen didn’t seem to be a highly political guy, and according to New York magazine people didn’t know if he was a Democrat or a Republican. But then… something strange happened. Cohen decided to become active politically, and even held a fundraiser for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in his own home. That March 14, 2012, fundraiser was just four days after Wisconsin prosecutors say Walker met with Michael Sullivan of SAC Capital Advisors. Cohen donated his $1 million to Wisconsin Club for Growth on April 13, 2012.

Digging a little deeper, Sullivan has been described as “SAC’s Washington-based policy advisor” and as a managing partner of SAC and a former staffer to ex-Sen. John Ensign. Ensign, of course, is the evangelical Christian Nevada Republican who had to resign in 2011 over revelations of his affair with an aide’s wife and his work securing a lobbying job for the aide. Ensign’s parents later gave the aide and his wife a $96,000 “gift.”

Sullivan’s also on the board of directors of Michelle Rhee’s education “reform” group StudentsFirstNY, which is pushing for charter schools and opposes teachers unions—you know the type. Big Walker donor Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, also sits on the board.

Now, mind you, I cannot find any record of Cohen contributing directly to Walker. (If you do find evidence, let me know.) But thanks to the prosecutors’ John Doe investigation, we’re getting a small glimpse of just which tarnished billionaires are propping up the Walker/Club for Growth agenda in Wisconsin.

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