For years, no, at least the last two decades, the Janesville Gazette published editorials and letters including hundreds of anonymous statements in their Sound Off column making repeated claims that taxpayer money helped fund Democratic party candidates and issues because public employee unions supposedly held elected officials hostage during bargaining sessions for generous wage and benefit packages. That statement was usually accompanied by another from private sector workers who said their union dues are funneled to political candidates and campaigns they often don't agree with.
The Gazette of course wasn't alone publishing those allegations as those statements were key talking points from special interest groups running national campaigns against unions. But the newspaper played a large and willing role fueling that resentment against unions in south-central Wisconsin that continues to this day.
Since then, state republicans have openly admitted that Scott Walker's Act 10 budget "reform" bill was intentionally designed to tactically defund unions that support only democrats (police and fire unions exempt) and because of it, state democrats including President Obama were going to have a much more difficult time winning elections. Several years later, Wisconsin republicans then addressed the private sector unions by passing anti-worker Right-To-Work legislation in hopes to eliminate the second source for funding democratic candidates.
In the meantime, state republicans (including some exceedingly dumb democrats) wrote and passed generous tax credit "incentives" with portability and transferability options designed to be claimed by businesses posting large profit margins, or in other words - by
But state Republicans refused to leave their local chamber donor clubs behind without legislating funding mechanisms of their own. For them they approved TIF District modifications that allow TIF District surpluses (excess capital destined for General Fund public purposes) to be ported for private business activities within a half-mile of another TIF. The TIF District tool, once considered a prize to spur redevelopment and private investment over brown fields and abandoned industrial corridors, is now little more than a lucrative political slush fund carved out from taxpayers General Fund.
In Janesville for instance, city administrators are pushing a downtown TIF District that will, for the next 27 years, annually carve $1.5 million cash out from general fund revenue growth projections (1/3 city, 1/3 schools, 1/3 county and state) to instead pay for a local chamber donor club's "redevelopment" plan, at a time when the city manager reported the next budget will begin with a $800,000 shortfall and warned of future deficits.
All of that and more can be seen front and center with links to the latest scandal surrounding Scott Walker's signature achievement, the WEDC agency, and its attempt to clawback $50,000 worth of tax credits from Grainger Industrial Supply.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported that Gov. Scott Walker received a total of $21,000 in multiple campaign contributions beginning in 2011 from the former chairman of Grainger after it was approved for $500,000 in state tax credits. It should also come as no surprise that the campaign donations happen to be 1/10th of the $227,500 advance (tithe?) Grainger received from Janesville in 2010 for a promise to create 130 jobs. Jobs that according to the WEDC audit report - never materialized.
Oh. The $227,500 cash advance to Grainger originated from Janesville TIF District surplus.
There it is.
Political Capital - What Scott Walker Slush Fund?