Sunday, April 3, 2011

Koch Brothers' Heavy Hand Behind Anti-Kloppenburg Ad, Everything Else In Wisconsin

A shadowy group called Citizens for a Strong America (CSA) has run an TV ad against JoAnne Kloppenburg, a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Said ad was recently evaluated by PolitiFact Wisconsin and was found to be "ridiculously false" and was thus given the dubious "Pants on Fire" rating.

The article, besides evaluating the ads factual correctness, also pointed out an issue of question regarding CSA:
We wanted to ask Citizens for a Strong America-- one of five conservative groups that reportedly have spent $2 million in TV advertising against Kloppenburg -- for evidence to back its claim. That proved to be difficult.

According to its website, the group is based in Beaver Dam, Wis., and "promotes public policies that reduce tax burdens on families, increase public safety and protect the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s medical, psychological and educational well-being."

No names, phone numbers or e-mail addresses were provided on the website. And there are no Beaver Dam phone numbers listed for Citizens for a Strong America or for Veronica Johnson, a person identified as having placed the TV ad.
This was picked up in other places and they made some further progress.

PRWatch also wrote on the subject and found that CSA is operating out of a drop box in West Bend, even though they are apparently able to channel money by the truckload, but there they became stymied.

Buckeyville was able to trace CSA's website to a John Connors, who has a Milwaukee address which happens to be the same as that for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a well-known front group for the Koch Brothers (remember them?).

Jessica Arp, a reporter for Channel 3000, also filed a video report regarding this story, which includes a focus on how inaccurate the advertisement really is.  She also noted the drop box, that their phone number is a Middleton number, and that John Connors tie in.

But all of these astute reporters haven't gone all the way looking into the convoluted and intricately interwoven mess that is behind CSA.

Independent of the above cited research, a friend of mine, and a cognitive dissident in his own right, had his curiosity piqued by the Politifact article, and did his own look see behind the scenes.  He was kind enough to share what he found with me.  (Please note that he did give me this information last night, and it is my own fault that this is only getting posted now.)  Some of this will be redundant of what I wrote above, but I will take that risk for the sake of keeping it consistent in both my mind and the mind of the gentle reader.

As noted above, the website for CSA is registered to John Connors.  As also noted above, Connors' address is listed as 1126 S. 70th St., Suite S420, West Allis, WI 53214. This is also the same address for AFP.

But that's not all. Not by a long shot.

Also sharing the same address as CSA and AFP is an organization called Campaign Now.  Guess what. Campaign Now's website is also registered to John Connors. Digging a little deeper into Campaign Now's site, one can find their contact phone number.  This number happens to be the same phone number that was used by AFP to register riders on the buses to the AFP (read Koch Brothers) sponsored pilgrimage to Madison on February 15, in order to represent the Koch Industries in front of the Joint Financial Committee.
Besides sharing phone numbers and addresses, these groups also share Connors, who is listed as a On-Site Production Coordinator at the AFP/Koch Brothers sponsored Tea Party held in Wisconsin Dells in 2009

Further research shows that Connors is indeed a very busy and very well-connected young man.

On top of being affiliated with AFP, CSA and Campaign Now, Connors was also an intern for then County Executive Scott Walker and for the gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, all while balancing his school career and being a senator at Marquette University.

Connors is also listed as the registrant for yet another website, this time, which is ironically described as a "non-profit, non-partisan" project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.  And here's a really shocker - Franklin Center is affiliated with - guess who- the Koch Brothers!

It should be noted that the Franklin Center is one of these so-called news organizations, a la MacIver Institute. Here is a real good summary of how messed up this stuff is getting:
The decline of the statehouse beat is bad enough. What I find even worse is the influx of agenda-driven state “news” organizations, some with a leftist orientation but most of the newer entries tilted far to the right. They claim their sole reason for being is to inform the people and hold public officials accountable, filling a vacuum caused by the downsizing of the news industry. Their mission statements actually say they’re rushing to fill the gap.

Don’t believe it for a moment. Do what reporters should do: Check them out, as I have done. For the most part, the people in charge of these would-be watchdog operations are political hacks out to subvert journalism in their quest to grab and keep power using whatever means they have to do so. Good luck on finding out where they get their money; the IRS disclosure forms required of organizations that claim nonprofit status are singularly uninformative.

At the forefront of an effort to blur the distinction between statehouse reporting and political advocacy is the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, which finances a network of websites that focus on state government. This center has ties to a number of conservative organizations, including the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, whose founder is billionaire David Koch. He is a longtime financier of right-wing causes whose shadowy political dealings were highlighted this past summer in a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer headlined “Covert Operations.”
As a side note to all of this, it should also be noted that Connors is not the only one who has their fingers in all of these pies.  Claire Milbrandt, who was listed as Stage Coordinator at the AFP event, is also listed as Account Executive at Campaign Now, Account Manager at Connors and Co., and a consultant for AFP.

I sure hope that the Koch Brothers are paying them well for all of their hard work.

But it is very frightening to see just how many things the Koch Brothers have their dirty little hands into in Wisconsin, and none of it to the benefit of the state or its people.

It also shows just how very important that we take to the polls on Tuesday, April 5, and vote to keep Wisconsin in the hands of Wisconsinites, not the Koch Brothers.


  1. As scary as all of that is, I am comforted by you and those like you who don't let this stuff pass by unnoticed. Thank you.

  2. Great research!! Thanks for the nod and additional digging!! Lisa from PRWatch

  3. Great work!


  4. John Conners? Wasn't that the name of the future general in the terminator movies? So is this guy for real or is he make believe?

  5. Great job capper. Anyone whose heart beats Badger red should be outraged and disgusted that Scott Walker and the GOP is allowing these greedy bastards to mess with our state. The first step in telling them all to go to hell starts Tuesday, April 5th.

  6. Good investigation, shows how few people and how much money are actually behind these smears.

  7. Thanks for all your hard work. I tried to find info on this group last night but just gave up. The Koch Brothers's tentacles do have a long reach, don't they?

  8. Good citizen journalism, capper. I see that One Wisconsin Now has picked up the story. We need to spread it around to as many as possible.

    You know, maybe Hillary Clinton's "vast, right-wing conspiracy" was more accurate than we ever knew. The levels of power-grab and covering up of those moves that the Koch boys are trying to pull has to be stopped.

    So why not have us be the one who starts to stop it on Tuesday?

  9. The Koch Brothers are all over the place. Every time the curtain is pulled back on some benign sounding group, the good old Koch Brothers are seen scurrying away. Thanks for exposing them. So, John Connors is being schooled by the masters. I wonder how much Citizens for a Strong America ( or the Koch Bros.) paid for the ad. No matter what amount, it's pocket change for the Kochs and they mean to keep it that way. $40+ billion dollars buys a lot. The "influenca" epidemic is spreading.

  10. For the commenter who pointed out the accuracy of Shillary Clinton's comment on the vastness of it all, keep in mind, Clinton was a favored candidate by the DLC, which also received much of its money from the Koch Brothers. This is the same DLC that Howard Dean was castigated for referring to as the "Republican wing of the Democratic Party", despite the fact that such a statement is very provably true.

  11. "Anonymous"- If you mean that the Clintons were/are obnoxiously pro-corporate and not exactly flaming lefties, I'm with you.

    And that proves the point, because the Clintons gave away a ton to corporate America and for the Kochs and the right-wing ideology tanks, it still wasn't enough. These people WANT IT ALL, and they want to take it from everyone else (who's the real "takers", hmmm?). This is why we have to stop them tomorrow, and drive them out.

  12. To play devil's advocate, is it possible that this fellow is a web-savvy consultant, and that all these sites had him as their webmaster?

  13. They are all connected with the "real owners" (as Geo Carlin called them) of this country. In 2008 I was receiving lots of Rep. flyer - some from Right to Life. When I looked at who paid for some flyers, their address was the same as flyer I got from WI Manufacturers something... same address, same suite #, same phone #. We've got to stop the way elections are run - no reform... complete change.

  14. Thanks for this great article. I passed on the link to all of the facebook groups I am on, to let them come here and read it for themselves.

  15. Thats what I was thinking, why can 't Connors be "web" go to guy for conservative related things.Just because he used to work for Walker, all of a sudden he equals evil. Doesn't make sense! Liberals need to open their eyes and grow up!

  16. No: the Koch brothers are following their M.O. of using multiple astroturf organizations to attack a ballot issue from several all-but-untraceable sources. Here's the letter that one of them sent to raise cash for ads. (Because the Kochs are, among other things, cheap.)

    Good job of sleuthing.

  17. So let me get this straight... the Kock brothers are trying to push for what they believe in and what they believe will help them? Geee... what are you doing right now by posting this article? I gaurantee between you and your friend you put hours in to find all of this information just to get people to believe what you do. How are you any different? Is it because they're better at it and found a way to make money off of it that your angry?

  18. Foust, the argument for Connors just being the registrant would be plausible except for the fact that he was so active in various levels with each group. He sounds like he's the some kind of regional player.

  19. Excellent work! Linked from my blog (DTA).

  20. Keep up the good - and complete! - work! Please forward information like this to news outlets, too. Maybe they'll use it, maybe they won't, but we progressive Wisconsin voters need to keep the truth in front of the public.

  21. Let it go. Not everything is a conspiracy.