Candidates in the June 5 recall elections filed their campaign finance reports yesterday with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB). Reports show that Governor Scott Walker raised $5 million between April 24 and May 21, which brings his total to $30 million since January 2011 -- more than any other candidate in Wisconsin history. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's campaign has raised $3.1 million between April 24 and May 21, for a total of $3.9 million. Walker is outspending Barrett by a factor of 12:1. These numbers do not show the astonishing level of spending by 3rd party groups who have come into the state, mostly on the side of Governor Walker. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) alone has spent as much in this last month ($3.9 million) as Tom Barrett has raised.
The campaign finance reports also disclose that Walker transferred another $100,000 into his criminal defense fund the "Scott Walker Trust;" this is on top of the $60,000 in his last report and the $160,000 paid to attorneys representing Walker's campaign. This brings the total amount of legal fees disclosed so far to $320,000. Walker continues to bank checks over and above the $10,000 individual limit currently allowed by law. This is permissible only if Walker is using the funds to pay old bills. Many are speculating that Walker will use the funds to pay undisclosed legal bills, at least four law firms are now involved in representing the campaign and Walker himself. Walker is the only governor in the nation with a criminal defense fund due to a wide-ranging probe being run out of the Milwaukee District Attorney's office into Walker's former staff and associates that has already netted 15 felony indictments. While Walker has denied being a "target" of the probe, politicians are not allowed to use campaign dollars to pay legal bills unless they or their agents are the target of an investigation. Learn more here.
Celinda Lake Puts the Race at a Dead Heat 49-49 with Likely Voters. A new poll taken by Celinda Lake, a well-respected Democratic pollster, puts the recall at a dead heat. Lake says Scott Walker and challenger Tom Barrett are now deadlocked, at 49 percent each among likely voters. The poll surveyed 600 likely voters between May 24-28 and is consistent with other recent polls showing the race tightening. It was comissioned by the pro-labor Greater Wisconsin Committee’s political fund. The same poll finds that independents are breaking towards Barrett, 49-44. The margin of error is + or - four percent. Another poll by Marquette University law school is due out later today.
“Win One for the Gipper” Says New Pro-Walker Ad By Mysterious Tea Party Group. A Tea Party PAC called The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama is running new ads in Wisconsin shortly before the June 5 recall election. The ad stars Michael Reagan, the oldest son of President Ronald Reagan. In the ad, Michael Reagan compares Walker to the conservative icon: “We need leaders like Scott Walker, he is a reminder of somebody named Reagan from a long time ago.” The ad ends with the plea: “Win this one for the Gipper.” The PAC is not registered in the state of Wisconsin and is not permitted to engage in electioneering. Others ads the group has run in the state can be accessed here. The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama is "focused on making sure conservatives win the 2012 Presidential election." According to their website it is "lead [sic] by a team of experienced conservative activists" that includes: Andrea Shea King, a conservative talk radio host who traveled around Wisconsin with the Tea Party Express to "save Wisconsin Republican state senators from recall," and Joe Wierzbicki, a political consultant who has helped the Tea Party frame their message, and who has "helped plot image-rebuilding efforts." The American Prospect contacted Wierzbicki about the PAC's involvement in Wisconsin. He replied saying that the recall election in Wisconsin "is the opening chapter of the presidential race" and that "the ramifications of the RECALL election are huge."
Walker Releases New Ad Attacking Barrett Over Milwaukee Crime Stats. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign released a new ad that attacks his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett over recent revelations that the Milwaukee Police Department has been under reporting violent crimes. On May 22, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel released an important investigation documenting systematic under reporting of crimes by the Milwaukee PD. However, the Walker ad misassigns a quote by a criminologist interviewed in the expose. Sam Walker, criminology professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, told the paper that the statistics "clearly indicates a systemic problem in the department - there has to be a failure of leadership. If (police) do it in one or two cases, it's not a big deal. If they do it in a large number of cases, it's suspicious and probably improper." While the quote in the newspaper clearly applies to the police department, the same quote in the ad is applied to the Mayor. While Barrett has cited the statistics, there is no evidence that he knew anything about the under reporting.
Overhead Light Brigade Visits Madison. The Overhead Light Brigade (OLB) showed off their signs on a pedestrian bridge across East Washington Ave in Madison on May 28. The OLB is a growing group of volunteers who have created large signs with LED lights, and hold them on overpasses around the state reminding people to vote and displaying messages critical of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
This piece originally appeared on PR Watch.