Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group founded by David Koch and funded by a roster of right-wing think tanks, has purchased $150,000 in TV air time in Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee, three of Wisconsin’s biggest media markets. The ad buy comes in the run-up to Wisconsin’s big recall elections, which are just over a week away. If spent on pro-GOP recall ads, the buy brings AFP’s overall political spending on the recall races to more than $500,000.
The August 9 recall elections pit six under-fire state Senate Republicans against Democratic challengers. The six GOPers were targeted by voters after they backed Republican Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union budget “repair” bill, a piece of legislation that sparked weeks of protests in Madison, the state capitol. Walker won the battle over his bill, which curbed collective bargaining rights for most public-sector unions in the Badger State, signing it into law in March. But soon after it was blocked by a district-level judge, who claimed GOPers violated the state’s open meetings act in the passage of the bill. The bill eventually wound up before the state Supreme Court, where a three-justice conservative majority upheld the bill.
It’s not only Republicans who have faced blowback for their actions during the battle over Walker’s budget bill. Three Democratic state senators were targeted by conservatives for recall for fleeing the state in February to block a vote on Walker’s bill. In July, one of them, Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen won in a landslide in the first general election of the recall season. Democrats need a net gain of three seats in the state senate to take control of the chamber.
Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive group One Wisconsin Now, called AFP’s new ad blitz “the granddaddy of corporate, big oil special interest money” and a last-ditch effort to salvage the GOP majority in the state senate. “The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has now dumped over $500,000 to pollute Wisconsin airwaves about the failed agenda of Scott Walker and the Senate Republicans—and they may just be getting started.”