Op-Ed: Wisconsin Republicans to meet with corporate lobbyists in DC
Any pretense that the Wisconsin GOP's Koch binge aimed at destroying union workers was meant to save Wisconsin's budget woes flew out the window when details of their meeting with corporate lobbyists in DC were revealed.
When you're a good little corporately-owned Republican politician in Wisconsin who just illicitly passed legislation aimed at eviscerating union workers rights, what do you do next? You head to Washington DC to hold secret meetings with corporate lobbyists
to receive your reward.
Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are scheduled to appear
at a Washington D.C. fundraiser
this Wednesday, March 16 hosted by BGR Group
, one of this country's largest lobbying firms. BGR Group's clients include major foreign corporations. BGR Group bills itself as "Your Global Partner in Government, Commerce and Media."
BGR has a long list of ties to the Republican Party. Bob Wood, a former aide to Tommy Thompson, the Republican governor of Wisconsin for 14 years is among BGR's executives and BGR's past client list includes Wisconsin Energies
Corp. who provides electrical service to much of Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Wisconsin Energies Corp. also serves natural gas customers in Wisconsin.
The Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit advocate for campaign finance reform, pointed out
that Wisconsin Energies
has spent $320,000 on lobbying with BGR since 2009, and that BGR executives donated at least $10,800 to Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign. Wisconsin Energies stands to benefit greatly from a provision in Walker's budget that would privatize state-owned companies
through no-bid contracts. Adding fuel to the controversy is the fact that Wisconsin Energies has ties to the Wisconsin's State Senate caucus: Heather Liebham, who has worked for Wisconsin Energies state regulatory advocacy, is the wife of Republican Wisconsin State Senator Joe Liebham, who was one of the eighteen who illicitly pushed Walker's "budget repair" bill through the Wisconsin Senate, producing a major conflict of interest.
BGR Group's ties to Wisconsin run deep
The Center for Responsive Politics
and the National Institute on Money in State Politics
are two informative resources for people wanting to follow the money in politics. In addition to representing Wisconsin Energies Corp., BGR represents a significant number of foreign interests and governments
including The Republic of India which paid BGR $1.2 million to represent its interests in Washington, India's Reliance Industries which has paid BGR $1.52 million from 2009 and 2010, The American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, which paid a combined total of $280,000 to launder money into the U.S. political process, The Kurdistan Regional Government which paid BGR $1.13 million from 2009 to 2010, and Russia-based Alfa Bank which paid BGR $510,000 in 2010 to help subvert U.S. politics.
Wisconsin Republicans scheduled to attend BGR's fundraiser include Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, Representative Scott Suder, Senator Glenn Grothman, Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Robin according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report
. BGR's ties to Wisconsin run deep.
The BGR fundraiser, which requires attendees to drop a minimum of $1,000 on the state GOP just to get in the door, is another in the long line of embarrassments
for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his cohorts. Sponsors of the BGR fundraiser are expected to pay up to $2,500 and Hosts are expected to pay $5,000.
As Craig Holman of the Public Citizen told Talking Points Memo
, "This fundraiser is far more a celebration and reward to the Wisconsin Republican delegation for its leadership in attacking labor unions and turning back union rights. It accurately reflects that the battle of Wisconsin is in fact a highly-funded campaign orchestrated by national political players. Its origins and support span from the Koch strategy conference held in Rancho Mirage to the lobbyist fundraising event held in DC."
Aside from highlighting the fact that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican cohorts will stoop to any means to eviscerate union workers
, Walker and company have provided ammunition supporting the need for overhauling U.S. election and lobby laws. As I mentioned before, it's time to take out the political trash and sanitize our political process. The Koch whores can argue all they want for trying to justify their illicit evisceration of union workers everywhere, but once again their actions speak louder than words and tell a different story.