Last week the Marquette Tribune reported on the fundraising efforts of Gov. Scott Walker in preparation to defend against the statewide movement to remove him from office. The article implied that the fundraising methods were evidence of the governor’s widespread support among average Wisconsin citizens. The Tribune reported “Walker’s high volume of small donations points to his campaign’s success in stimulating a grassroots movement…” While Scott Walker has raised a lot of money over the past few months, the Tribune’s portrayal distorted the nature of this achievement and overlooked the true source of the majority of the governor’s funds.
Far from a grassroots movement of middle-class Wisconsinites, according to reports from local NBC 4 news, more than 61 percent of Walker’s fundraising during the last reporting period came from out-of-state donors. While the Tribune’s article stated that “77 percent of the 21,443 individual donations were $50 or less,” this number is misleading in that it does not indicate the total amount of money raised from these small donations compared to that raised by large contributions. Four individual donors, Bob Perry of Texas, David Humphrey, Sarah Atkins, and Stanley Herzog (all Missouri residents), donated a combined 1 million dollars, roughly 25 percent of Scott Walker’s total funds. He is continuing this “grassroots” effort this Wednesday, Feb. 8, when Gov. Walker will be holding a private fundraiser at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida. The price of attendance is a humble $2,500. He has had similar events in Texas, and New York.
Governor Scott Walker’s fundraising has not proved the existence of an organic movement by the people of Wisconsin. What Walker’s accumulation of this large sum of money has shown, however, is that our governor has strong ties to corporate interests across the country and is willing to seek their resources in effort to retain his position.
Compare these dealings to the recall campaign. This movement’s 30,000-plus volunteers were the true testament to the power of political action. These people, of all ages and backgrounds, gave their time to collect petitions at bus stops, parks and other public spaces. They cared enough about the future of our state to reach out into their local community for support. And the people across our state responded. The recall effort collected over 1 million signatures, far above the 540,208 required. Marquette students alone collected over 4,000 signatures in Milwaukee. Their efforts to stand behind teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public employees is the real grassroots movement in Wisconsin, and no amount of money will stop the people from reclaiming our great state.
Arts & Sciences ’14
Communications Director, College Democrats