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.