Hijacking Campaign 2016

American Federation for Children Action Fund IE Committee Inc.

Posted: August 2, 2016
Updated: November 4, 2016

Fall: OathSpending

This is one of two committees used by the American Federation for Children, which is a Washington D.C.-based group that supports school voucher programs in Wisconsin and around the country, to make independent expenditures in Wisconsin elections.   The organization started sponsoring outside electioneering activities during Wisconsin's 2010 general elections.  Since then, the federation has doled out an estimated $5.4 million on independent expenditures and phony issue ads, mostly to support GOP legislative candidates and Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The federation's chair is Betsy DeVos, who is the wife of Dick DeVos, Michigan billionaire and son of Amway Corporation co-founder Richard DeVos.  Scott Jensen, former state Republican Assembly leader and one of the leading figures in the Wisconsin caucus scandal, has been a senior policy advisor at the organization.

The committee filed paperwork about a week before the Aug. 9 primary showing that it spent about $29,000 on online advertising and mailings to support Mark Elliott, a Republican candidate for the open 18th Senate District seat held by outgoing GOP Sen. Rick Gudex.  The race is likely to be one of the highest-spending legislative contests for candidates and outside electioneering groups because it is an open seat and the district has been represented by Republicans and Democrats in recent years.

In September and October, the federation reported spending on mailings and online and broadcasts advertising in several legislative races, including:

Television, radio and online advertising against Democratic candidate Bryan Van Stippen, who is running against incumbent GOP Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, in the 12th Senate District.  The group's 30-second ad - here - called Van Stippen a carpetbagger for challenging Tiffany after just having moved to the district;

Broadcast and online ads - here, here, here, and here - and mailings in the 85th Assembly race to support GOP candidate Patrick Snyder and attack Democrat Mandy Wright;

A radio ad - here - and a television ad - here - to oppose Democrat Jeff Wright who is challenging GOP incumbent Rep. Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, in the Assembly 51st District;

A radio ad - here - to support incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Krug, of Rome, in the the Assembly 72nd District.

A 60-second radio ad - here - against Democrat Dennis Hunt who faces Republican Rob Summerfield in the 67th Assembly District race.
 
The group's second independent expenditure committee is called the American Federation for Children Action Fund Inc.

Last active election: 2014

This organization is registered with the Government Accountability Board/Wisconsin Ethics Commission as an independent expenditure committee following the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.