Since he took office in January 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has spent a great deal of time out of state, in part to raise money for the impending recall election in June. Also during that time, Wisconsin has led the nation in job loss, with at least six straight months in the red in terms of job creation.
Well, as expected, Walker’s many fundraising trips have paid off. His campaign announced that they raised $13.2 million since the beginning of 2012, with two-thirds of that sum coming from outside Wisconsin.
Unlike some of the third-party groups supporting him, like the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Walker’s campaign has to disclose where donations over $1,000 come from. Here are some of the highlights:
- Bob Perry, the wealthy Texan right-wing donor behind the disingenuous 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and a close ally of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (no relation), gave $500,000. Perry is the owner of the Houston-based development company Perry Homes.
- Sheldon Adelson, the president of Las Vegas Sands, gave Walker $250,000. Adelson, the billionaire owner of multiple casinos, was last seen almost singlehandedly floating Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign to the tune of $17.5 million. Adelson’s anti-worker, anti-union animosity has been well-documented.
- Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway and owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, also gave $250,000. The DeVos family, particularly Richard’s wife Betsy Prince DeVos, has been on the forefront of the school privatization agenda across the country.
- Sarah Atkins and David C. Humphreys, both of the Missouri-based roofing giant Tamko, gave $250,000 apiece. Atkins was head of Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, which is now called (ready?) Americans for Prosperity. Stanley Herzog of Herzog Contracting, another Missouri building protects corporation, kicked in $250,000 as well. (More on the $750,000 Missouri connection.)
We could keep going. Trevor Rees-Jones, Texas oil industry, $100,000 to Walker. Bruce Covner, New York hedge fund industry, $100,000 to Walker. John Childs, Massachusetts private equity firm, $100,000 to Walker. This continues the terrible trend we’ve seen as the 2012 election approaches – that big donors will have more say over our elected officials than we will.
In the world of politics, these fundraising numbers are staggering. Walker’s fundraising is on par with that of a presidential campaign.
But we get this news while we are seeing other staggering numbers. While Walker has been gallivanting from state to state, shaking hands and taking checks, working families back home have been experiencing the brunt of his ideological crusade and his negligence toward the jobs crisis.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between March 2011 and March 2012, Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs. This isn’t a case of “the economy is bad” – Wisconsin is the only state in the country to have experienced statistically significant net job loss over this period.
This also isn’t a fluke. For six straight months, Wisconsin has experienced a net loss of jobs while other states recover. Wisconsin has dropped to 42nd place on Bloomberg’s Economic Evaluation of states index.
Remember, Scott Walker promised during his 2010 campaign to create 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015. When he cut collective bargaining rights for thousands of public workers, and when he took federal money meant for struggling homeowners to plug holes in his budget, and when he effectively hiked taxes on working people by eliminating the state earned-income tax credit – his ultimate justification was that this would somehow help create jobs and spur the economy.
Walker and his legislative allies aren’t under threat of recall because just a couple people are mad at him. They aren’t under the threat of recall because of his treatment of union workers alone. These elections are happening because Walker and his friends have very specific, narrow, ideological priorities that run contrary to those of Wisconsin families, and they have raised this money by getting in small rooms with super-wealthy individuals who share those priorities: Adelson, DeVos, Koch, and Perry among them.
Voters should pick our leaders and decide our priorities, not big donors. Walker is an example of what you get when only the super-wealthy have a say.