To those inclined to criticize the John Doe investigation of Gov. Scott Walker, consider this: Absent the investigation, Gogebic Taconite’s $700,000 investment in the 2012 gubernatorial recall campaign would have remained forever secret.

Gogebic’s campaign cash came to light only after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals released documents pertaining to allegations that Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with independent groups that helped him win the recall. While the case hinges on the definition of “independent,” it’s absolutely clear that Walker, Gogebic and their Tea Party allies wanted Gogebic’s finanical involvement shielded from public knowledge. A key Walker fundraiser said as much.

“The governor is encouraging all to invest in Wisconsin Club for Growth,” Walker fundraiser Kate Doner wrote in a 2011 email. “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.”

Doner’s email couldn’t be more frank. She declared the era of unlimited, undisclosed campaign cash has begun and that Gogebic and other big-money interests can “invest” in campaigns for public office without inconvenience or public scrutiny.

The public policy consequences are profound. Shortly after Walker won the recall, Gogebic won extremely favorable legislation that allowed it to build the world’s largest iron mine in northern Wisconsin. The bill gutted the public hearing process, which required the company to testify, under oath, that the project had complied with all environmental standards. It also allowed Gogebic to pay taxes solely on profit, not on the amount of ore removed.

While the court case hinges on how the terms “independent” and “coordination” are defined, Walker’s Democratic challenger Mary Burke cut through the fog of semantics when she said, “If it isn’t illegal, it should be.” Burke is right. What’s at stake is whether the wealthiest interests in society can transform elections into silent auctions. Walker and the Tea Party are committed to the ideology that Gogebic Taconite is entitled to spend $700,000 to influence elections and legislation without voters being any wiser. They couldn’t be more wrong.


Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

(2) comments


As a result of the quest for the power of public office, not only is Governor Walker beholding his soul to the company store, but he is takes the citizen's of Wisconsin with him. With the selling of government to the ultra rich, and creating groups to allow the moderately wealthy to collaborate with the ultra rich, representational government is being sold to the highest bidder.

I don't begrudge those who are well off by hard work or even birth. I do however when they believe and try to buy the decisions that are intended to be made by citizens in our representational form of government.



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