Hijacking Campaign 2016

Greater Wisconsin Committee

Posted: March 23, 2016
Updated: October 21, 2016

This is the phony issue ad arm of the Greater Wisconsin Committee, which is mostly funded by labor unions and ideological groups to support Democratic and left-leaning candidates for local and statewide offices and the legislature.

In addition to issue ads, Greater Wisconsin also uses a 527 group to raise money, and a corporation and a political action committee to make independent expenditures, which are electioneering activities that directly tell viewers how to vote.  All told, the four entities operated by Greater Wisconsin have spent an estimated $33.6 million between 2006 and spring 2016 on statewide and legislative elections. 

The group sponsored a 30-second TV ad in mid-October - here - that accused GOP Sen. Luther Olsen, of Ripon, of knowing about health care problems at the Veterans Home at King and doing nothing about them.  Olsen is being challenged for his 14th Senate District seat by Democrat Brian Smith. 

GWC also sponsored two 30-second TV ads - here and here - in the hotly contested 18th Senate District race.  Both ads accused Republican candidate Dan Feyen of favoring tax breaks for the wealthy over adequate funding for public schools and roads.  Feyen faces Democrat Mark Harris for the open seat.

At least some of Greater Wisconsin's funding for their fall electioneering activities came from a 527 organization controlled by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry.  One of the union's 527 groups - United Association Political Action Fund - contributed $150,000 on Sept. 30 to Greater Wisconsin.

About a week before the April 5 spring elections, the Greater Wisconsin Committee sponsored a 30-second television ad in connection with the Wisconsin Supreme Court race where Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg faces incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley for a 10-year seat on the high court.  The group dropped about $600,000 in television markets around the state to run the ad - here, via WisPolitics.com - which asked how Bradley could be a fair judge because of columns she penned abouts gays and birth control in the early 1990s when she was a college students.

In addition, Greater Wisconsin's corporation spent more than $100,000 on online advertising against Bradley.

Last active election: 2015