Who paid expenses for the Fleabaggers?

When Wisconsin’s 14 Democratic state Senators fled the state in February to deny the state a quorum and block passage of a bill that limited collective bargaining for most public-employee unions, they insisted that the costs of their fleabagging came out of their own pockets. One state Senator claimed that his parents, uncle, and sister were footing his hotel and travel expenses. All 14 insisted that they received no outside monetary support for their weeks-long, self-imposed exile.

However, a recent claim by Democracy for America at the Netroots Nation in Minneapolis last month casts considerable doubt on the claim that the fleabagger adventure was entirely self-funded:

The Senators have repeatedly insisted that they, themselves, paid their own bills.

Yet at a recent national gathering of liberal activists, one prominent national group bragged about raising $200,000 to help keep these Wisconsin Senators out of state.

Whoa. $200,000?

So, did the senators pay for their three week sabbatical out of their own pocket as they claimed? Did they use campaign donations? Or did this liberal organization simply pick up the tab?

You can buy a lot of vacation for $200,000. Let’s assume that hotel and food costs for each Senator amounted to $250 a day, which would pay for a nice hotel room and pretty good meals for each. With 14 Senators, that comes up to $3500 a day. With $200,000 in pocket, that would have floated the Fleabaggers for 57 days, plus left them enough gas money to carpool back to Madison.

If Democracy for America did, as Levana Layendecker claims, give the Democrats $200,000 to defray the expenses via the “Democratic Senate Committee” (perhaps the DSCC?), that raises some interesting questions.  Shouldn’t those funds be considered a campaign donation?  If so, the committee should have disclosed it in their Q1 filings, as well as the record of their disbursements on behalf of the Fleabaggers.    What exactly got purchased with the money?  Was there any money left over, and if so, what happened to it?

MacIver Institute promises to stay on top of this story, but they’re also following the money on the recall campaigns.  And unions are providing a lot of it to follow:

A national labor union dumped $778 thousand into the We Are Wisconsin PAC just one week before recall elections take place, according to finance documents reviewed by the MacIver News Service.

The AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education Treasury Account sent the money on Tuesday, July 5, according to Government Accountability Records.

This followed on the heels of another contribution from a Washington-based union.  The “AFSCME – WI Special Account” sent $350 thousand to We Are Wisconsin on July 1.

They spent a lot on the Prosser-Kloppenberg race, too, but it didn’t win them the election.  We’ll stay tuned to Wisconsin to see what happens in this round.