Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plale Takes Money from Global Warming-Denying Koch Company Lobbyist

By Lisa Kaiser
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You know there’s nothing I love more than poring over the campaign finance reports of candidates.

And you know there’s always something juicy in Sen. Jeff Plale’s reports, because he’s the right wing’s go-to Democrat for killing legislation that conservative corporations don’t like or slipping in last-minute amendments that blow up carefully crafted legislation that does something positive—like enhance clean energy goals, for example.

But I digress.

Plale’s got a fight on his hands, because he’s being challenged by an actual Democrat, Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson, in the September primary.

So Plale’s got to hustle or he’s toast.

Zach at Blogging Blue and Xoff at Uppity Wisconsin have covered Plale’s haul from special interests that benefit from his legislative “skills”—cable and phone companies looking to deregulate, utilities that claimed to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) but really didn’t, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce poo-bahs who find Plale to be the most reliable non-Democrat in the caucus.

But if you look really, really closely at Plale’s campaign finance report you’ll find something kinda startling: he took $250 from Jeff Schoepke, a lobbyist for Koch Companies Public Sector LLC and Georgia-Pacific LLC (and a past lobbyist for WMC). Schoepke blandly calls himself a “regional manager” for Koch on Plale’s report, but he’s listed as its lobbyist in the state database.

Why is this so important?

Well, Koch is the biggest privately owned oil company in America. It also owns Georgia Pacific.

The profits from the Koch conglomerate also fund Americans for Prosperity, the nutty Astro-turf group hyping the tea parties. (Well, I'm not so sure the various tea party "patriot" groups want to be linked to AFP, but AFP's doing its damnedest to do it to look legit.)

Koch is also a primary funder of climate change-denying think tanks and other free market outfits like the Cato Institute.

Greenpeace did an awesome report on the long reach of Koch, which is well worth a read.

And here’s my take on AFP’s work in Wisconsin and why it was rallying against CEJA.

So it’s no wonder why Plale helped to kill CEJA.

But here’s the kicker: if you search Plale’s report for “Koch” you won’t find it. It’s conveniently misspelled as “Kpch,” but believe me, it’s Koch.

And if you go back to Plale’s January 2010 report, you’ll find that he took $1,000 from Alice Walton and $1,000 each from Gregory Penner and Carrie Penner of Menlo Park, Calif., in November 2009. Alice is the heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, and Gregory Penner is a general partner in “a private investment firm affiliated with Rob Walton and his family.” Rob Walton’s the chair of Wal-Mart.

Not exactly the kind of folks you’ll meet at a Grant Park fish fry, hey?

Wal-Mart, of course, loves to fund school voucher reform and meddle in MPS affairs. And Plale’s pro-voucher and supported the mayoral takeover of MPS so it all makes sense.

Like I said, Plale’s campaign finance reports are juicy.

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