Friday, February 17, 2006

New anti-tax group features familiar face

Have you notice that the new campaign for Bride of TABOR features a new player, Americans for Prosperity?

They are sponsors, with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, of the patriotic pro-TABOR radio spot that's been running.

And it was their "expert," Colorado economist Barry Poulson, who testified at the first hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment to strangle government -- and who ducked the question when asked how much he was being paid for his testimony.

They call themselves a free market grassroots group, but the money doesn't come from the grassroots. Americans for Prosperity is funded by people who are already prosperous. The organization's affiliated tax-exempt foundation was created with funding from the heirs of Fred Koch, who made his fortune in oil and gas and was a founding member of the arch-conservative John Birch Society.

The Wisconsin branch's director is Mark Block, a longtime Republican operative best remembered for his role in the 1997 campaign of Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox, which resulted in the largest fines ever assessed against any campaign in the history of Wisconsin -- $60,000 in all. Block himself was fined $15,000 and barred from campaigns in Wisconsin for three years.

Wilcox himself paid a $10,000 fine, although denying any wrongdoing himself.

The Capital Times reported in 2001:
The Elections Board alleged that Wilcox's campaign illegally coordinated last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts with the supposedly independent Wisconsin Citizens for Voter Participation. State law bans any coordination or cooperation between independent groups like the coalition and a candidate or candidate's campaign organization.

Under the settlement, Wilcox's campaign manager Mark Block also agreed to pay a $15,000 fine and promised not to work as a consultant or volunteer on any campaign until 2004.

The coalition's co-founder, former Assembly Republican staffer Brent Pickens, agreed to pay a $35,000 fine and promised not to work on any campaigns for the next five years.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has more.


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