Nov 23, 2013

Koch Was Not Shy About Talking Strategy for Wisconsin Recall

Updated - Every Wisconsin politico remembers the recording made public in 2011 of Scott Walker's gushing over the man Walker thought to be David Koch.

Repulsive in about a dozen ways.

Jack Craver of the Capital Times looked at the transcripts of the Walker-faux Koch conversation and found another repulsive angle: Koch and Walker plotting to use Koch's Americans for Prosperity 501(c)(4) (AFP), illegally I would say, to help out the six Republican state senators who were recalled in 2011.

From the 2011 recording referenced in Craver's piece:
And later Walker hinted at how AFP could protect state senators running for reelection: "(P)articulary in some of these, uh, more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them, but they’re gonna need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state."

Koch and Walker were right about using AFP to keep GOP control in the Wisconsin senate.

Mal Contends learned last February that David Koch more than hinted, he explicitly took credit for keeping the Wisconsin State Senate in Republican control.

In February 2012, a reporter, Stacey Singer, scored a rare interview of Koch for her piece that ran February 18, 2012 in the Palm Beach Press.

Writes Singer:

Asked about his efforts to sway public opinion, Koch acknowledges his group is hard at work in places such as Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a likely recall vote.

"We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," he says. "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."

By "we" he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an "It's working" television ad buy in the state. It credits Walker's public pension and union overhaul with giving school districts the first surpluses they've seen in years.

Reached at the Press in 2012 after the Koch piece had run, Singer told me (by phone) Koch said, it "was the work our people did, what Americans for Prosperity did and the money spent that enabled them [the Republicans] to keep control in the [Wisconsin state] senate."

The problem with Koch and AFP is that AFP is registered as a non-profit 501(c)(4).

So AFP's electoral politics, electioneering, are explicitly delineated by law, and they are not supposed to act in support or opposition of political candidates.

As noted here regarding Lawrence O'Donnell reporting on 501(c)(4)s:

Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out in May 2013, 501(c)(4)s are by federal statute, supposed to be operated "exclusively for the promotion of social welfare," as O'Donnell cites federal law on non-profit, tax exempt organizations

And this "exclusively" element means  501(c)(4)s cannot be an electoral tool used to elect political candidates for public office.

Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code defines tax-exempt social welfare groups like this:
"Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare." (Evan Puschak, The Last Word with  Lawrence O'Donnell; May 13, 2013)

There have been complaints filed with the IRS and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board alleging illegal use of tax-exempt status by Koch's group.

Wisconsin awaits word on the response to these complaints. John Doe II may comprise much of this response.

Few believe, and certainly not Koch and Scott Walker, that Americans for Prosperity is exclusively used for the promotion of social welfare.

Lawrence O’Donnell Show - May 2013

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