By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. – If Madison’s Center for Media and Democracy has its way, government investigators armed with subpoenas may soon raid the homes and offices of conservatives across the country in a national campaign that began right here, in the Democrat-controlled Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office.
Beginning with a press conference last week and promising a yearlong coordinated effort, CMD has spent several days speculating on the links between free-market political organizations. Any kind of cooperation among those groups to elect a conservative – for example, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – is evidence of wrongdoing, CMD suggests in a rambling post on its website.
… “(A) John Doe in Wisconsin may be needed to unravel the elaborate dark money web. But what is truly needed is to put citizens back in the driver seat, and enact (and enforce) disclosure laws that prohibit the shell game and let the public know who is meddling in state and local politics,” the center writes in its concluding shot.
“The question for those monitoring the situation is whether the organizations were serving as front funding groups for the Koch brothers, creating a twisted web of donations that potentially allowed Koch funds to flow into the state undetected, with the end goal of hoisting Walker to victory,” asserts a publication that pulled heavily from CMD’s “reporting.”
Multiple sources tell Wisconsin Reporter that CMD’s claim is the basis of the Milwaukee DA’s investigation into about 100 people representing some 29 conservative and libertarian groups.
Despite CMD’s assertions, there’s no law barring cooperation among political groups. That fact may derail the Milwaukee DA’s probe, now headed by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz.
It was left to a reporter to make that point during last week’s CMD conference call.
“Why should we be surprised conservative-funded groups are funding conservative causes?” the reporter asked. Doesn’t the same thing occur on the left?
The answer, according to CMD executive director Lisa Graves: Yes, but the left is morally superior in its motives.
“The question of conservative funders versus liberal funders, I think, is a matter of false equivalency,” Graves responded. “Quite frankly a number of these (corporate donors) like Koch Industries … they’re advancing not just an ideological agenda but an agenda that helps advance the bottom line of their corporate interests. That’s quite a distinct difference from some of the funders in the progressive universe.”
At the heart of CMD’s campaign is the suggestion that conservative political groups cannot legally work together. Liberal groups? That seems to be okay.
“It’s just the end justifies the means,” said a target of the Milwaukee DA’s probe who spoke to Wisconsin Reporter on condition of anonymity. “They see conservatives as money-grubbing that must be stomped out by whatever means necessary.”
As one reporter at last week’s CMD press conference pointed out, the left-based organizations that pushed out the reports about conservative organizations certainly coordinated their efforts. Dozens, if not more, liberal organizations and media outlets – from Reader Supported News to the AFL-CIO – ultimately picked up on CMD’s “dark money” narrative.
“If there’s any justice in Wisconsin,” a conservative who has been subpoenaed told Wisconsin Reporter, “the Milwaukee DA will either drop this investigation – or open a second one into liberal groups, starting with the Campaign for Media and Democracy.”
Contact M.D. Kittle
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