Friday, October 18, 2013

Let's Navigate the Capitol - Bjork Style

By Jeff Simpson

I have written lately about Mary Burke's top political advisor - Tonya Bjork.   I covered her initially into her being knee deep in the Caucus scandal, secondly being a major player with Wisconsin Hospital PAC who has given thousands of dollars to Scott Walker.

Before we get into today's lesson, we need to clarify something.   There was some sloppy criticism of my post about Tanya Bjork's association with the Wisconsin Hospital PAC.   Apparently she gave all of the money to their Conduit.  A conduit is set up(and quite possibly illegal) for someone like Tanya Bjork to give money to Wisconsin Hospitals PAC and then direct that money elsewhere.  That way if you want to give more than the max.  You can funnel your money through their PAC allowing you to give more than the legal amount, and hope the media stays lazy and does not track your donations.(*clarification, I am not accusing Tonya Bjork of doing this, I am merely pointing out that I do not see any other reason for a conduit.  If you want to give money to a politician give money to them.  No need to give it to someone else to give to them).

Just some more context, before we move on(H/T one of our readers).   Wisconsin Hospitals PAC, of which Tanya Bjork was a major player and fundraiser for,  gave approximately 80% of their donations to the red team.  Would you belong to an organizations that so directly conflicts with your values?   I would not.

Today we are going to cover her day job.  Owner, with her husband/partner Scott Tyre, of a LOBBYING firm called Capitol Navigators.

Here is Tanya's husband at a typical day of work:

Here is their client list:

  • Altria Corporate Services
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Express Co.
  • Association of General Contractors of Wisconsin
  • Aurora Health Care
  • Community Corrections Corp.
  • DCI Group
  • Deloitte
  • Dewey Square Group
  • General Motors
  • H & R Block
  • Hill Top Public Solutions
  • HSBC
  • Johnson Controls, Inc.
  • Kwik Trip
  • MulchSeal
  • National Association of Professional Employer Organization
  • SC Johnson & Sons Inc.
  • Superior Services, Inc
  • TDS Telecom
  • US Oil
  • Water Remediation Technology, LLC
  • Webber Merritt
  • Wisconsin Bankers Association
  • Wisconsin Cable Communications Association
  • Wisconsin Cluster of YMCAs
  • Wisconsin Early Autism Program
  • Wisconsin Hospital Association
Before we go any further, let me address the first objection.  That this is her husbands firm.   1. Wisconsin is a 50/50 state, if they were to get divorced she would be part owner of it real quick(just ask Robin Vos) and 2. She lists her employer as (drum roll please) Capitol Navigators!

Yes, I understand that the donations under her name are all Democrats, but let's take a look at a partial list of the rest of the people that Capitol Navigators have donated too(recognize any of these names):

*Robin Vos
*Jeff Fitzgerald 
*Scott Fitzgerald 
*Committee to elect a Republican Senate
*Republican Assembly Campaign Committee
* Scott Suder 
* Mike Huebsch 

"Dont play both sides of the fence because one day your leg is going to get caught trying to get over on the other side."  Unknown

 Nothing says progressive champion like sending $500 to Robin Vos!  Let's be real, CapitolNavigators has made lots of money suppressing and squashing progressive legislation and helping get the current extreme right wing legislation passed.  Hey, whatever makes you a buck.  Its a tough economy out there(thanks in part to the legislation you lobby). 

Before I come to my conclusion, let's bring one more piece of evidence into the equation.  Do not forget that Scott Walker withdrew a student appointment to Board of Regents(a basically figurehead position) because the original pick, they found out signed the recall.petition.  (FYI: Tanya Bjork and her Husband Scott Tyre did NOT sign the recall petition).


Now to my conclusion, We have a very vindictive and petty republican party running our state government.  Tanya and her husband make a very nice living with their lobbying firm, lobbying both parties.   DO you trust Tanya Bjork to do the right thing and attack Scott Walker, when and where he needs to be attacked, to win?  Knowing that her living depends on playing both sides in the Capitol?  Do we trust that when there comes a time, when her career and her current job, collide, that the people of Wisconsin will not get the short end of the stick?

Looking back at her career, from the caucus scandal(which still disgusts me) through her time at Wisconsin Hospitals PAC and beyond, she  has a definite pattern of having an ambitiously me first attitude.   Her willingness to break the law to advance her personal career in the Caucus scandal, and her apparent willingness to suppress her personal beliefs and values, with Wisconsin Hospitals PAC in order to pad her resume speaks volumes to me.

When it comes down to making the tough call, one that might win the race but cost her Lobbying firm business in the end -  Whose side will she be on?

I think we know the answer to that.  I also think we do not like the answer!

Draw your own conclusions.

However, there is enough bad, evil, slimy, play both parties evidence there for me to far outweigh the non existent progressive credentials of this supposedly democratic lobbyist, that I know what side I believe she will pick!

If you're going to connect with the good people of WI, a well connected, political insider who makes a living lobbying, and was in the middle of the biggest political corruption scandal, is probably NOT the best choice to do that.  

I was also hoping, that one of the campaign issues would be Walkers cronyism and incompetent politically motivated hires, one that we would easily win.  Unless, we allow Tanya Bjork to run the campaign and we send the message that cronyism is alive and well in our party also!  

I personally would rather this Bjork be running the show, at least she understands marketing:

It has been made perfectly clear to me, by party members, that no amount of grassroots support matters.  So the only thing they will listen to is our pocketbooks.

For me personally - No Money for Burke until Bjork is gone.   I prefer my Democratic Candidates sans republican lobbyists on their staff.  


Burke for Wisconsin
PO Box 2479
Madison, WI 53701
(608) 807-0602

PS:  In case you were wondering, Wisconsin Hospitals PAC - Supported ACT10.  Helping break the Nurses union, maybe not the most progressive position someone could take.

PSS:  To the people on the Burke Campaign, you might want to add Mary Burke's twitter account to the website contact info.  It is the year 2013 after all.

PSSS:  Adding the twitter account does not count as actual content.   The website could use some of that also.   


  1. Conduits are possibly illegal? Someone should tell ActBlue that, since they're a conduit.

  2. WOW.....why on earth did Burke hire her? Sounds like us Dems are already taking two steps back and the race hasn't even begun. I sure hope Vinehout is approaching the starting line. Has not Burke or Bjork rebutted any of this?

  3. "Gals" on the Burke campaign? Pretty sure they're all grown-up women. You're wondering why people are labeling some of your attacks as sexist -- these kinds of off-handed digs are part of the reason why. Another reason is assuredly your insistence on tying Tanya to her husband's presumed beliefs as if she lacks agency over her own thoughts.

    Also you should at least Tanya's name correctly as you attempt to drag her through the mud.

  4. I was wrong on gals, no disrespect meant. It has been changed. Her name has also been corrected.

  5. "Gals" is a common regionalism. Where I grew up in northern Wisconsin everyone used it, including women. They still do, so the alleged sexism as an angle of attack is bullshit.

    You can learn all you need to know about Tanya by following the money. Practicing a double standard when it comes to women and money in politics is also sexist, right? Wisconsin politics has become a corrupt cesspool and unfortunately, functionaries in both parties are happily splashing around in it.

    1. I'm from Fondy, I hear "gals" all the time but whatever; I have not heard a satisfactory explanation for dicking around with GOP lobbyists.

  6. gareth...

    If people have to explain why something is NOT offensive -- it truly was to someone.

    Capper did the right thing by acknowledging that the term was not helpful -- no proclaimations by you will change the facts here.

    Please don't make this about the most inane points you can imagine -- obviously, "gals" was not a great word choice and the author has changed it.

  7. "Now to my conclusion, We have a very vindictive and petty republican party running our state government" That is the ultimate "pot calling the kettle black" statement coming from the likes of Jeff Simpson. Hilarious !!!! You really should do stand up Simpson.

  8. So - how did Bjork hooked up with Burke. This smells. Mary Burke - talk to Tammy - hire her manager.

    1. Thats very witty and almost funny. However I would actually agree with you, because something is different.

      Tammy came out swinging early with strong progressive ideas and kept it up. Mary B is coming out late, saying i have no position on anything.

      So whats different? a will to win? better candidate? was someone else actually doing the work before?

    2. Burke stopped in La Crosse on Saturday and instead of a public appearance, met with six business owners. There, she suggested boosting efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, attracting out-of-state businesses and developing programs that ensure the state can offer a skilled workforce". Right out of Walker's campaign book.

      Bjork's strategy appears to be to make Burke into "Walker-lite" and appeal to the people who supported Walker but have a conscience. This approach certainly won't lose Bjork any business with Republican customers, but will just demoralize many

      I think this ill-conceived strategy creates a space for Vinehout to do what she does so well- tell the truth and stand up for the people of Wisconsin.

  9. Kristen Hansen, an official of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in the 5th Congressional district, posted the following on Facebook: There were 41 focus groups of “regular people” held across the state and you know what came out of it? That the toughest competition for Walker would be 1) a woman, 2) who is highly educated, 3) who has a business background and is literally a job creator, 4) who has deep roots in Wisconsin and 5) is not a sitting politician. That person is Mary Burke and she will be a great candidate.

  10. Wisconsin Hospitals PAC supports any legislation that benefits them. Wisconsin Hospitals PAC strongly backed the Affordable Care Act, but when Walker made it clear that he wouldn't accept the Federal money to fully implement ACA and expand BadgerCare, the WI Hospitals PAC changed its tact. Walker not expanding BadgerCare and actually kicking 92,000 people off the current program, means that ion JJanuray 1 thousands of Wisconsinites won't be able to afford health insurance.

    Wisconsin Hospital PAC members recognized that their facilities would soon have even more uninsured people skipping out of their hospital bills. Wisconsin Hospitals PAC lobbied for help from Scott Walker and he gave them $79 million to cover the unpaid medical bills. Rather than provide real health care to individuals, Scott Walker was okay giving the money directly to hospitals and the hospitals are happy to grab even more of our tax dollars.

  11. Jeff ,both you and I were attacked on this issue .I believe that Mary Burke should at least offer an explanation into these matters.