Pro Right-to-Work Groups Spent $5M+ to Help Reelect Walker in 2014

February 24, 2015

Two outside electioneering groups that support a controversial right-to-work bill in Wisconsin spent more than $5.5 million to help Republican Gov. Scott Walker win reelection last November.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) , the state’s largest business organization, doled out an estimated $4.5 million, mostly on negative television ads, to praise Walker and smear his Democratic opponent, Mary Burke.

In recent years, Walker has either said a right-to-work law was not a priority, or refused to say whether he would sign such a bill if it reached his desk. But in recent weeks, WMC has urged the legislature to take up a right-to-work bill. Last week, GOP legislative leaders responded to that call by setting an extraordinary legislative session to speedily debate and pass a right-to-work bill. Within hours of their announcement, Walker said he would sign a right-to-work bill if approved by the legislature.

All told, WMC has spent an estimated $9.5 million to help Walker win his last three contests for governor in 2010 , 2012 , and 2014 .

In addition to backing Walker, WMC also spent an estimated $1.3 million in the 17th District and 19th District state Senate races to help Republican candidates Howard Marklein and Roger Roth win and beef up the GOP’s majority control to 18-14 in the Senate.

A second outside electioneering group that backs right-to-work laws, Americans for Prosperity , doled out an estimated $1.1 million on television ads and mailings to support Walker in 2014. The group is funded mostly by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch , who are longtime supporters of conservative Republican candidates and anti-labor, anti-regulatory causes throughout the country. In addition to his 2014 reelection campaign, Americans for Prosperity spent an additional $3.7 million to help Walker win his 2012 recall challenge.

The Kochs and their billionaire buddies have vowed to spend nearly $1 billion of their personal fortune on the 2016 federal elections, which include the presidential race in which Walker is a potential nominee.