Target 2: Inside Big Money Spending - WBAY

Target 2: Inside Big Money Spending


Inside a Green Bay hotel room one day earlier this month, the path toward influence started here.

"I'm just going to have you stand here," a filmmaker told a volunteer far away from any campaign headquarters.

As the recall race for Wisconsin Governor heats up, so too is the spending. In fact, it's predicted historic amounts of money will be poured into this short campaign.

A Democratic primary is scheduled May 8th with the recall election June 5th.

California-based political action committee The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, which has Tea Party origins, recently created an ad supporting Governor Scott Walker. Ads have already aired in the Milwaukee television market and are expected to begin Thursday in Green Bay on cable.

"We see this is not really a local campaign, this is a national campaign," said Lloyd Marcus, chairman of The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama PAC.

The amount of money spent to influence Wisconsin voters from the outside is expected to be unprecedented.

The Wisconsin For Falk PAC, supporting Democratic candidate Kathleen Falk, has aired ads statewide funded by labor unions with influence and direction from outside the state, not affiliated with the campaign. And the Republican Governor's Association has aired an ad attacking Democratic candidate Tom Barrett under the local PAC called Right Direction Wisconsin.

"Increasingly what we're seeing is groups trying to cloak their true identity," said Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, an independent group tracking political spending. "You have names that kind of sound like motherhood and apple pie, 'Americans for Amber Waves of Grain,' and behind it are the real actors who are trying to influence the elections."

McCabe predicts between $60 million and $80 million will be spent in the governor's recall, at least double what was spent in 2010, a majority coming from interest groups on both sides.

In last summer's Senate recalls, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found $44 million was spent. Of that, $34.5 million came from outside sources.

"Some of these groups operate as political action committees and they are reporting their spending and donors, but it is incredibly easy for these groups to organize in a way to keep all that a secret," said McCabe. "They don't have to report their spending, they don't have to report where the money comes from so the true origins of so much of this money is kept a secret."

When asked how much money The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama plans to spend in Wisconsin, Marcus said, "We're not going to go there either. We're just gonna keep doing what we're doing."

And that is collecting and spending money at historic levels.

"I'm not sure very much of that money will really persuade many voters," said McCabe. "So I think a lot of this money is going to go down a big rat hole."

Click here for a list of PACs and corporations.

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