Meet your friends at the Club for Growth
If you’ve been watching TV lately, you’ve probably seen some ads placed by the Club for Growth. Never mind the points being made are moot, since public employee unions have already agreed that members will contribute more toward health insurance and their retirement fund. The Club for Growth had their ads on the air before some Wisconsin legislators even had a copy of Governor Walker’s “budget repair” bill in their hands:
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“Like last Friday morning, when I was driving to a school business administrator’s meeting in De Pere. And I turned on the radio and there was an ad saying, “Hey, support Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. Paid for by the Club of Growth.” Well guess what, I had never been given a bill… And it’s bad enough, it’s bad enough that I had to hear it from a radio ad from Washington DC, and then show up at a meeting with no details…”
– Rep. Gordon Hintz
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The Club for Growth would like the people of Wisconsin to support Governor Walker’s union-busting bill, but it’s just fine with them if people don’t understand what’s in it and what it means. Their ads don’t deal with the issue on the table, which is collective bargaining. But those ads aren’t just for you. What they’re really about is trying to intimidate legislators and especially Republican senators, who might otherwise be tempted to vote their conscience and break ranks from the far-right party line being advanced by the guv.
You see, not everyone is in the club.
The Club for Growth has made a business not only of putting people in office, but bringing opposition in primary races against GOP legislators who they don’t think are adhering to their conservative doctrine. Ask Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who miraculously won a write-in campaign to keep her U.S. Senate seat last November. The Club for Growth tried to swing that seat to Joe Miller, (Sarah Palin’s pick in that race.) Some of us never cheered harder for a Republican Senator than we did for Murkowski.
They successfully unseated Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah in the 2010, replacing him with Mike Lee. They backed Marco Rubio in Florida, forcing Republican Governor Charlie Crist to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race that Rubio ended up winning. Remember Senator Arlen Specter switching over to become a Democrat in Pennsylvania? His seat is now held by former Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. Remember Russ Feingold? The Club for Growth poured six figures into negative ads and their approved candidate, Ron Johnson, now holds the seat.
The Club for Growth was a player with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in the ridiculously negative Wisconsin Supreme Court races over the past few years and they are backing Justice Prosser this year.
And now the Club for Growth is blasting the airwaves in Wisconsin again, this time to protect their protégé governor Scott Walker that they supported heavily. All the while, they’re reminding everyone in the Republican ranks — including Scott Walker – that they’re ready to pour on the money against anyone who strays from their no-compromise, hard right party line. The Club for Growth would like to win, but they are just as interested in exacting punishment against wayward Republicans.
Here’s a little snippet from a Club for Growth mailing in 2006 to their members:
“Politicians are risk-adverse. Every Republican in Congress knows what we did in Rhode Island. They realize that Club members donated an incredible $725,000 to Chafee’s challenger. They know that the Club for Growth PAC spent an additional $515,000, mostly on TV ads, and took a challenger from being down 2 to 1 in the polls to the edge of an upset. As senators cast their votes on key bills, wavering Republicans will have to wonder if they could withstand the same punishment.”
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You can thank the U.S. Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United decision for making this problem even worse now than it was in the past (and it was already plenty bad.)
I’m providing a couple of pictures here. One is Steve Moore, founder of the Club for Growth. The other is Governor Scott Walker. Did you notice the background is the same? It’s no coincidence that they were both appearing on the agenda at an Americans for Prosperity event around two years ago in Milwaukee. It’s no coincidence that the Club for Growth holds hands with Koch Brothers funded groups. And it’s no coincidence that even though Wisconsin public employee unions have already given the governor everything he says he needs on the money side, he still won’t compromise. The club doesn’t compromise and if you do, you’re not club material for anything but an assault in the next election cycle.
Trees are known by their fruit and people are known by the company they keep.