Who Bought The Wisconsin Election

Scott Walker survived his recall. In case you were wondering whether our democracy is totally fucked, read this about the last minute ads that poured into Wisconsin:

CAV describes itself as a “grassroots advocacy organization created by leaders from a wide array of issue interests.” It’s unclear who’s really behind the group—and it has seemingly taken measures to keep it that way. The local address CAV lists on disclosure forms appears to trace back to a Milwaukee UPS Store. Same goes for the Arlington, Virginia, address it provides on its bare-bones website.

State and federal records list Brent Downs as CAV’s treasurer, but an online search reveals nothing about who he is. (CAV did not respond to multiple phone and email messages for comment.) Federal Election Commission records list Illinois attorney James Skyles as CAV’s general counsel. Skyles’ online résumé says he formerly worked for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. The Virginia-based think tank is part of the State Policy Network, a national web of free-market outfits that promote anti-union, pro-privatization policies. Reached at his office, Skyles said CAV is “a very new organization” devoted to “social welfare and public education.” But he repeatedly declined to identify the people behind the group, citing attorney-client privilege. CAV’s Facebook page, created less than two weeks ago, includes a handful of links to recall-themed news stories, but no information about runs the group.

The FEC warned the group in May that it could face “civil money penalties” or “legal enforcement action” for its failure to file a disclosure report.

The Center for Responsive Politics’ website lists just one donor to CAV’s associated PAC: Rebekah Mercer of New York City, who gave $50,000 in November 2011. Mercer has given tens of thousands to conservative candidates such as Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) and groups including the Club for Growth.

A search of FEC records turns up just a handful of documents for CAV. The most recent is a May 3 letter (PDF) from the commission warning the group that it could face “civil money penalties” or “legal enforcement action” for its failure to file its April quarterly disclosure report. In late May, CAV registered with Wisconsin’s elections agency to make independent expenditures supporting Walker in the recall.

Along with its recall efforts, CAV operates a website called ProtectSandMining.com, which says it was created to dispel “a vast amount of misinformation” about the practice. Sand mining has boomed in northern Wisconsin as the use of “hydraulic fracturing,” or fracking, has grown. Fracking is the process by which a mix of chemicals, water, and sand are blasted into the ground to access natural gas reserves. CAV’s site touts the potential jobs created by sand mining in Wisconsin, while downplaying concerns about its sizable environmental impact. (Additionally, the group has also sought to raise money for Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s Ohio congressional bid.)

That’s very inspiring. I feel all patrioticlike just thinking about it.

Scott Walker will be the new GOP prototype. Their worst impulses have been validated.

Still waiting for returns on Wilmer in Montana, Griego in New Mexico, and Solomon in California among others. It’s going to be a long night. It isn’t over. In fact, it’s never over.

I’m going to have a shot of Patron right now in honor of the all the people who worked so hard in Wisconsin to put a stop to this. I salute you.

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