Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 21, 2022
By M.D. Kittle
Emails and texts obtained in an open records request by state Rep. Janel Brandtjen show longtime Dem operative Patrick Guarasci, founder of G. Strategies, pulling the levers of power in the mayor’s office in the so-called “Milwaukee Votes 2022” GOTV campaign.
In April, more than month before Mayor Cavalier Johnson led a press conference announcing the initiative, Guarasci texted a “Milwaukee Draft Timeline” to Alexis Perterson, special assistant to Johnson and Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg.
The mission, according to the effort ostensibly is to “register more Milwaukeeans to vote,” but the emphasis was on getting the right — or is that left — voters to the polls.
“Special coalition assembled by the Mayor and elections department leaders in the south side of bipartisan leaders to galvanize the southside population, focusing on the latino population to register to vote, with an overlay of data measurement to test the success of the effort,” Guarasci’s timeline states.
Guarasci previously was a political advisor former longtime Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Jim Doyle, both highly partisan Democrats. He boasts on his web page about working with radical leftist Stacey Abrams in her failed run for Georgia governor in 2018. He also led the national fundraising campaign for Randy “IronStache” Bryce in said union thug’s failed congressional race and he “worked closely with US Senator Tammy Baldwin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin on their national fundraising efforts to pay for voter engagement in Wisconsin.”
In the timeline, Guarasci lays out the partnership between the city, Milwaukee Public Schools, major businesses and nonprofits. As Empower Wisconsin has detailed, the nonprofits are some of the most aggressive liberal activists in the state and nation.
“To make it easier to register voters, a web widget has been developed to be hosted on participating organization’s websites. The coalition will galvanize the city to vote in the upcoming election and challenge their own employees and customers to vote,” the timeline notes.
And the city jumped on board quickly, taking orders from Dem operative Sachin Chheda, who, too, was calling the shots on the GOTV campaign from behind the scenes.
Also tied into the “nonpartisan” effort is Melissa Baldauff, Gov. Tony Evers’ former comms director and principal with GPS Impact, a marketing outfit that boasts it has helped “Democrats, progressive organizations and initiatives, and elected officials win in red states.”
Previous texts show Chheda setting up meetings at City Hall — in the Election Commission office — and talking about coordinating with the mayor’s office.
Newly released texts show Guarasci doing the same.
“Hello you two wonderful folks. For the calls and outreach we talked about, please see the attached talking points and calls to be made. That’s the first doc. The second doc is the timeline for the project just in case you want it if he (the mayor) has questions,” Guarasci wrote in the April text to Woodall-Vogg and Peterson. “Alexis, let me know if you need anything further. You rock. Can talk through any of this with you. Claire, including you on this, so you have all of this because I know you will likely get pulled in to staff along with Alexis.”
Clearly, taxpayer resources are being used for a questionable get-out-the-vote campaign.
An email also shows communication between Milwaukee officials and Guarasci about the “progressive donor community.”
“AsI mentioned a week or two ago, we applied to host a panel discussion at the Funders Committee for the Civic Participation Conference in Chicago on May 11th. This convening brings together much of the progressive donor community,” the email states. It’s not clear who the email is from but it was sent to Guarasci.
“Our application was accepted, and we were wondering if you could check with Mayor Johnson on whether he would be interested in participating … We’d love for him to speak about Milwaukee’s leadership in promoting civic participation, and the importance of cities, stepping up in this moment.”
The Funders Committee for Civic Participation, coincidentally, is a donors’ affinity group for left-wing voter engagement advocacy that steers millions of dollars from left-wing funding entities to left-of-center nonprofits that use the money to engage targeted new voters and convert those individuals into a power base to push for left-of-center priorities, according to Influence Watch. Members include the AFL-CIO, the Amalgamated Bank, the National Education Association, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Democracy Alliance, the Tides Foundation, the Proteus Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and the Rockefeller Family Fund.
The interconnections are concerning. Previous texts note “Milwaukee Votes 2022” received a $1 million grant from The Center for Secure and Modern Elections.”
The Center for Secure and Modern Elections is a is a left-of-center advocacy organization created as a project of the New Venture Fund, a leading “dark money” pass-through funder and fiscal sponsor, to promote sweeping changes to the elections process, including state laws that automatically register voters at state agencies, according to Influence Watch.
CSME Action is the lobbying arm created by the Sixteen Thirty Fund, described by The Atlantic as “the indisputable heavyweight of Democratic dark money.” It often operates alongside its charitable “sister” nonprofit New Venture Fund, which provides similar funding and fiscal sponsorship services to center-left organizations.
And The Center for Secure and Modern Elections is closely tied to the Center for Technology and Civic Life. CTCL received hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to fund controversial “safe elections” grant awards that demanded liberal and Democratic Party operatives be embedded in the election offices of Wisconsin’s largest and Dem-heavy cities. Milwaukee was CTCL’s biggest grant recipient in Wisconsin in 2020.
The Funders Committee for Civic Participation conference was titled, “All Elections are Local: A Strategic Roadmap for Building Resilient Democracy,” according to the email. The session included the familiar liberal talking points on democracy in peril from the same groups that have fought against election integrity laws.
“What would it look like if we reimagined elections and civic engagement from the ground up? “ the organization muses. “Local government and election officials are at the front lines of democratic institutions, and many of their decisions can help make or break efforts by communities to gain representation and power.
“Over the past few years, significant investments have been made into new initiatives, which are revitalizing governance at the local level. Our current voting systems were built out of Jim Crow-era laws, and by local officials who have a shared goal of denying black voters and people of color, political power,” the Funders Committee asserts.
State Rep. Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly’s Campaign and Elections Committee, again urged the Republican Party of Wisconsin to take action to “secure this election.”
“Milwaukee and Democrat operatives are micro-targeting specific voters. I believe that’s illegal,” the Menomonee Falls Republican said.