Another chapter in the the evils of bought-and-paid-for politics is now playing itself out in Wisconsin – and, indirectly, in Missouri. Union-busting, Tea Partying, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced today that he had raised $4.5 million during the period from December 11 – Jan 17 in his quest to fend off a recall. You might be inclined ask just who is giving Walker all this money. He is clearly not too popular with the citizens of his state since over a million of them were eager to sign a petition for his recall.
And you would be right to ask. As Talking Points Memo’s Eric Kleefeld puts it:
… it becomes clear that Walker has been taking advantage of a key aspect of the state fundraising law for recalls – that until the election is officially triggered, the targeted incumbent can bring in unlimited donations.
Walker’s campaign staff claims that out of 21,443 donations, 16,406 were small contributions of $50 or less. However, WisPolitics.com did the math and concluded that, in spite of the Walker camp spin:
… 45 percent of the $4.5 million Walker collected during the two reporting periods filed yesterday came from those giving $25,000 or more. Most of his top donors also hailed from outside Wisconsin, according to a WisPolitics.com review.
Here’s the kicker, though, for those of us in Missouri: three of Walker’s biggest donors hail from our fair state and are, in fact, familiar names to those of us who follow the
careers beneficent activities of the state’s main political sugar daddies:
Walker also received $250,000 from David Humphreys of Tamko Building Products in Joplin, Missouri, and another $250,000 from Sarah Atkins of Tamko.
Stanley Herzog of Herzog Contracting in Missouri gave Walker $250,000.
That’s $750,000 going to support retrograde politics in Wisconsin. Of course these fine folks have a history of lavishly dispersing their largess around Missouri and elsewhere (see Herzog’s recent contributions here; Humhpreys’ here). One of the things that they buy in Missouri are politicians who are willing to make sure that these millionaires pay the same 6% flat tax rate that you, presumably, and I pay. If these individuals have money to throw at Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, maybe the rest of us should demand that they start pulling their weight here in Missouri as well.
There is a second issue here, though. While there is nothing wrong per se with people spending money to support politicians, there might be something wrong in permitting them to spend as much as they do in any single place. Just consider the $250,000 contributed to Scott Walker by Dave Humphreys, for instance. Since, many of the working people in Wisconsin who hope to recall Scott Walker might have to make an effort to scrape up $250 – or even $25 – to contribute to his eventual opponent in the recall, it does seem that, when it comes to buying government, Mr. Humphreys and his fellow members of the 1% have managed to create and perpetuate a system in which they can far too easily outbid the rest of us 99 percenters.