In February, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took time away from the great fight of his political life to engage in a 20-minute phone conversation with a caller he thought was billionaire conservative campaign donor David Koch.
Walker knew David Koch only by reputation: as a huge donor to independent groups that backed his 2010 run for the governorship and the campaigns of anti-labor, anti–open government, anti–local democracy candidates like him.
In the course of the conversation, Walker and the caller (actually blogger Ian Murphy) that the governor thought was one of the chief funders of the group Americans for Prosperity compared notes on what AFP could do to assist state senators who backed the governor’s agenda.
“Yeah,” the Koch caller said, “now what else could we do for you down there?”
Walker replied that “the biggest thing would be-and your guy on the ground [Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips]” to help shore up Republican state senators in their districts. “So one thing, per your question is, the more groups that are encouraging people not just to show up but to call lawmakers and tell them to hang firm with the governor, the better,” Walker said. “Because the more they get that reassurance, the easier it is for them to vote yes.”
“Right,” the Koch caller said, ”right.”
Walker continued: “The other thing is more long-term, and that is, after this, um, you know the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these, uh, more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them, but they’re gonna need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state. So to the extent that that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously a good thing.”
Admittedly, the governor was not very articulate.
But his message was clear enough. Walker wanted a Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), to step in and help the Republican legislators who sided with him—even in the face of massive opposition from their constituents.
Now that Wisconsin has reached the "more long-term" moment of which Walker spoke in that February call, AFP is all in.
Next Tuesday, six of those Republican state senators face recall elections.
And what is Americans for Prosperity doing?
This week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported: “In recent days, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity has sent out absentee ballot applications to voters—including Democratic activists—in two state Senate recall districts with instructions to return the material after the date of the election.… In recent days, the state chapter of AFP mailed out fliers telling voters to return the absentee ballot applications to their city clerk before Aug. 11, even though the election date for the two districts receiving the mailers is Aug. 9.”