Koch-Backed Texas Group Lobbying in Wisconsin

April 26, 2017

Texas Flag in Wisconsin Borders

A rightwing group called the Texas Public Policy Foundation started lobbying in Wisconsin for the first time last month So far this legislative session, the group, which has ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has taken positions on about a dozen crime and occupational-licensing bills.

The foundation was created in 1989 and is reportedly one of the Lone Star state’s most powerful conservative lobbying groups The group has been an active member in a corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the rightwing State Policy Network The Koch brothers have pumped more than $3 million into the foundation, as well as millions of dollars into ALEC and the State Policy Network The foundation has also received $240,000 from Milwaukee’s conservative Bradley Foundation

The foundation is not required to disclose its donors, but the group’s annual US Internal Revenue Service filing for 2015 showed it had $108 million in revenues and $73 million in expenses In 2012, a list of the foundation’s corporate and billionaire funders that was leaked showed about 130 individual, corporate and foundation donors, including the Kochs, and big tobacco, insurance and oil companies, among others, that gave the group about $47 million

In Texas, the group has lobbied on dozens of bills that mirror ALEC’s corporate-written, model legislation attacking health care reform, climate change, environmental regulation, and renewable energy The foundation supports state funding of voucher and charter schools and an Article V Constitutional Convention by the states in order to pass amendments to restrict government spending

In Wisconsin, the group’s state director and lobbyist is Tom Lyons, who received a Wisconsin lobbying license on March 3 The group has registered to support measures that would allow courts to reduce felony convictions to misdemeanor convictions under certain conditions, expunge some convictions committed by a person under age 25, and loosen some state barbering and cosmetology licensing requirements

The foundation also opposes Wisconsin bills that would require the state Department of Corrections to recommend revoking parole or probation when a person commits a crime while on parole or probation, and that would allow courts to place minors in a juvenile rehabilitation program or juvenile facility for offenses that would be considered felonies if they were committed by adults