Hijacking Campaign 2016

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Posted: October 5, 2016
Updated: October 11, 2016

WMC is the state’s largest business organization and one of the most powerful special interest groups in Wisconsin.  The group, which claims more than 3,500 business members, has spent millions of dollars over the years to lobby the governor and legislature on dozens of state policy and spending issues ranging from taxes to education to environmental, public safety and other business-related regulations.

In addition to throwing its weight around on state policy and spending matters, WMC is among the leaders in spending on outside electioneering activities, like negative broadcast ads and mailings, in statewide and legislative elections.  The group has secretly raised and spent an estimated $18.4 million since 2006 on phony issue ads to smear Democratic candidates and support Republican candidates for governor, attorney general and the legislature and conservative candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

WMC has operated soley as a phony issue ad group until recently when it filed paperwork with the state showing it had created a new independent expenditure committee called WMC Jobs Fund to make reportable independent expenditures.

WMC's issue ad arm sponsored television ads from early October until Election Day, Nov. 8, to back GOP candidate Dan Feyen, who faces Democrat Mark Harris for the open 18th Senate seat.  The incumbent, GOP Sen. Rick Gudex, of Fond du Lac, is not seeking reelection so Democrats are hoping to pick up the 18th Senate seat, which has flip-flopped between both parties in recent years.

Three WMC television ads - here - accused Harris of favoring numerous tax increases as Winnebago County's executive.  Among the tax increases Harris has suggested is a three-cent-a-gallon state gas tax increase to fund road projects and repairs.  Both WMC and Feyen have proposed similar gas tax and/or vehicle registration fee increases to pay for roads.

Last active election: 2014