Hijacking Campaign 2016

Wisconsin Freedom Alliance

Posted:  August 3, 2016
Updated: June 1, 2017

This new phony issue ad group sponsored outside electioneering activities that attacked GOP Senate candidates in four State Senate districts. Paperwork filed with the state Department of Financial Institutions show the Wisconsin Freedom Alliance was registered as a corporation in mid-July 2016 and that its address is a post office box at a commercial shipping service located in an Appleton strip mall.

Television ad buy records show the Alliance purchased nearly $151,000 worth of television time in the Green Bay television market between July 20 and Aug. 8 to air two ads attacking Republican candidate Mark Elliott, who ended up losing in the Aug. 9 primary to fellow Republican Dan Feyen in the open 18th Senate District. The ads accused Elliott of supporting some tax increases and claimed that he had been late in paying his property taxes. Feyen moved on to the general election where he defeated Democrat Mark Harris in November.

In late October, the Alliance sponsored nearly identical 30-second television ads against incumbent Republican Sens. Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls, Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, and Luther Olsen, of Ripon.  The ads criticized the senators for voting to cut millions of dollars from health care programs for veterans but supporting millions of dollars in state funding for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in Milwaukee.

The Democracy Camapaign estimates the Freedom Alliance spent a total of $700,000 in these four races.