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Quiet coordination? Evers’ B-roll ends up in B.S. political ad

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Talk about preposterous hypocrisy.

In his 2018 run for governor, Tony Evers declared he had had enough of “dark, out-of-state, special interest money.”

“We must come together and stand up for what we believe in. This race is too important to stand on the sidelines — the Koch Brothers certainly aren’t,” Evers sanctimoniously tweeted in January 2010, blowing one of the left’s favorite hypocritical dog whistles.

In a 2018 fundraising appeal, Evers insisted, “Gov. Scott Walker knows he can’t run on his record so he’s lying to Wisconsinites and relying on a flood of outside, dark money from the Koch brothers to draw attention away from his disastrous record.”

The Democrat doth protest too much.

In his run for re-election, Evers’ campaign has gobbled up plenty of “out-of-state special interest money,” And his Big Labor buddies have been pouring in donations to help Evers distract voters from his deadly disastrous record.

In fact, seven of his top 10 federal political action committee donors are union PACs, contributing at least $600,000 in combined donations to date.

Big Labor helps Tony, and Tony helps Big Labor. Call it a kind of quiet coordination. His campaign thinks no one is watching.

Check out Evers’ Youtube channel.

You’ll find, posted on May 31, video clips of the governor in various positive scenes. Evers talking to a little girl in the classroom. Evers walking down the hall with students, or seemingly talking earnestly to a teacher as children cheefully stroll by. Evers laughing with factory workers as welder sparks fly in the background. A vest-wearing Evers chatting it up with the ladies in a restaurant. All to a peppy music soundtrack.

The sanguine video montage is supposed to show “Tony Evers doing the right thing for Wisconsin.” The campaign claims it is B-roll — or supplementary — footage for “use for news media.”

Not even Wisconsin’s mainstream media is lazy enough to use said B-roll.

But special interest teachers union group A Better Wisconsin Together loves it. You’ll find it in the organization’s pro-Evers ads.

Look, here’s Tony chatting and drinking coffee with the gals, just like in that helpful B-roll his campaign was offering to news media.

Look how happy he and the ladies appear as the ad stretches thin the truth that “Governor Evers reduced taxes for middle class families by 10%.” Evers, of course, sought to raise taxes in his budgets. The Republican-led Legislature re-wrote the governor’s budget plan to include some of the biggest tax cuts in Wisconsin history. Evers had little political choice but to sign the budgets.

Here’s Tony talking to the factory guys.

 

News media didn’t want the clip, but A Better Wisconsin Together gladly used it to tell you to “Tell Governor Evers (to) keep standing up for Wisconsin families.”

Evers’ lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, a Milwaukee Democrat running against U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh), uses the same tactic. His B-roll video doesn’t come with a peppy soundtrack, however.

A Better Wisconsin Together describes itself as a “state-based research and communications hub for progressives.”

“Our messaging is research driven and targeted for maximum impact using cutting edge digital, earned, paid and social media strategies,” the organization said. And by cutting edge they clearly mean the staged video clips that the Evers’ campaign so generously provided to news reporters.

A Better Wisconsin Together is an independent expenditure committee, which means they can raise unlimited money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate. They just can’t coordinate with said candidate or campaign or a political party or its agents.

The B-roll business seems like coordination.

Liberals blasted Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign in 2014 for loading B-roll footage onto Internet sites for outside spending groups to use in their political ads. Democrat candidates have been caught doing it, too.

“Aside from the irony of Super PACs using video from the very campaigns they cannot coordinate with, the Campaign Legal Center argues it is illegal, citing a statute and regulations that treat the “republication, in whole or in part” of a candidate’s campaign material to be an expenditure or in-kind contribution to the campaign,” according to Covington Election and Political Law blog Inside Political Law.

The Federal Election Commission has split over whether an outside group can incorporate 10 to 15 seconds of footage obtained from the candidate’s website in political ads.

Campaigns will tell you, ‘Well, we had no idea such a group would use our positive footage for their political purposes.” 

A Better Wisconsin Together first registered in January 2021, according to campaign finance records. Since that time, the committee has taken in more than $1.1 million in contributions from national and Wisconsin teacher advocacy groups, including $34,395 from the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

While the outside group asserts it backs progressives in Wisconsin, it’s really an exclusive arm for electing Tony Evers. According to the Facebook Ad Portal, as of Aug. 17, A Better Wisconsin Together has spent $1.088,556 on pro-Tony Evers campaign ads.

Overall, Evers is the beneficiary of more than $13.4 million in special interest group spending, according to campaign finance filings.

The outsiders 

As for out-of-state money goes, Evers is pulling down a lot of that, too.

Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, part of the elite Hollywood glitterati, certainly don’t live in Wisconsin. They gave the maximum $20,000 contribution to Evers’ campaign, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Dirk and Natasha Ziff, a billionaire couple from New York, not Wisconsin, chipped in the maximum amount to Evers’ cause, too. Jennifer Soros, of New York City, president of the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, is another heavyweight donor. (Jonathan Soros is the third child of left-leaning billionaire activist George Soros).

In fact, 23 of the top 31 individual donors (each contributing $20,000) to Evers’ campaign in the first half of this year were from out of state, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Nearly half of the $10.13 million the governor raked in during the first six months of this year came from the Democratic Party and those 31 donors.

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