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WI Watchdog: Recall Elections are Being Hijacked by Special Interests

April 17, 2012

MADISON, Wis. - Republican Governor Scott Walker has become only the third governor in the nation's history to face recall, and Rebecca Kleefish is the first Lieutenant Governor to be the subject of a recall. Four Republican state senators also are up for recalls.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan group that tracks political spending, says $44 million was spent in the nine recall elections last summer, and special interest groups are hijacking the elections.

"Thirty-four-and-a-half million dollars of that spending wasn't done by the candidates at all; it was done by outside interest groups that sponsored their own advertising. So, very literally the interest groups did most of the talking."

By running fake Democrats in the four senate recall elections, the Republicans have forced primary elections, which will be held May 8.

The general recall elections, for the four senators, the Governor, and the Lieutenant Governor, will be held June 5. McCabe says if past is prologue, we'll see millions and millions spent by outside groups on these elections.

"It's possible that we'll just see a different constellation of groups that will do the spending in this year's elections as opposed to last year's, but I think what's sure is we're going to see very heavy interest-group interference in this race."

The four senate recalls will determine who controls the state senate, but McCabe says the big bucks will be spent at the top.

"The governor's race will be front and center, and that's where the biggest money will go, that's where the greatest special-interest group involvement will be, but we'll see it trickle down to the senate level as well, just not the way we saw it last summer when it was the only game in town."

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign keeps track of all campaign spending at its website,, where you can find a searchable database of all campaign contributors, and even links to the TV ads the outside groups are running.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI