The oppo researchers are out in droves and they’ve got their sights set on the GOP frontrunners as usual. This time the diligent diggers are looking at some hefty donations to Wisconsin Club for Growth by John Menard Jr., a wealthy business owner, which may have worked to the benefit of Governor Scott Walker.
So a little more than three years ago, when Menard wanted to back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and help advance his pro-business agenda — he found the perfect way to do so without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News.
Menard’s previously unreported six-figure contributions to the Wisconsin Club for Growth — a group that spent heavily to defend Walker during a bitter 2012 recall election — seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company. In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records.
They also cite “benefits” to Menard in the form of regulatory agencies taking less strident actions against his company… along with many other companies. And therein lies the problem with this bit of investigative reporting. Getting a tax credit after making a large donation can be problematic, but only if you can show some sort of special circumstances to at least suggest a direct quid pro quo situation. But if Menard donated to a group helping Walker because he knew that Walker’s policies would include the general support of such tax credits to qualifying private business across the board, this is a dry well. The same can be said for the loosening of regulations and lowered priority of enforcing some of them. Were Menard the only one to benefit, this would be a scandal. But when a general policy is changed, these donations quickly become a non-story.
In order to show some wrongdoing here, you’re going to need considerably more than this. The article goes so far as to admit that they have no knowledge of Walker ever soliciting Menard for donations or of any occasion when the two met to discuss state business. (Or to arrange some sort of dirty deal, as the report would like to lead you to believe.) In fact, when you pull the lens back a little ways, this entire story seems to be a study of a wealthy donor who wanted to get involved in the election and chose to donate his money to groups and candidates who supported the same goals that he had. Gee… there’s a shocker for you.
Exit question: how many Democrats in the United States Congress have accepted money from groups affiliated with Tom Steyer and then went on to cast votes in favor of fighting global warming, pushing wind and solar energy or the host of other green issues Steyer is heavily invested in? If they did so, does that mean that there was corruption afoot or was Steyer just helping “fight the good fight” by supporting like minded candidates? You can’t have it both ways.