- Gov. Scott Walker « American Democracy Legal Fund files complaint
February 10, 2015
ADLF Calls for Investigation Into Potential Walker Violation of Federal LawPublicly available reports indicate that Scott Walker, Our American Revival, and Our American Revival treasurer Andrew Hitt, may have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. Governor Walker recently created Our American Revival, a political organization organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. The facts indicate that Gov. Walker is testing the waters for a campaign for president of the United States, using OAR as his exploratory committee, and in doing so is raising and spending funds that are beyond the contribution limits and source restrictions of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
The complaint is available in full below and here. The American Democracy Legal Fund holds candidates for office accountable for possible ethics and/or legal violations. It was established by David Brock and is run by Brad Woodhouse.
455 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
115 East, State Capitol,
Madison, WI 53702
Our American Revival, and Andrew Hitt, treasurer
P.O. Box 628154
Middleton, WI 53562
Complainant files this complaint under 52 U.S.C. §
30109(a)(1) against Scott Walker, Our American Revival, and Andrew
Hitt, its treasurer, in his official capacity (collectively,
“Respondents”) for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971,
as amended (“the Act”) and Federal Election Commission regulations, as
Respondent Walker, the current governor of Wisconsin, recently created Our American Revival (“OAR”), a political organization organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. The facts indicate that Gov. Walker is testing the waters for a campaign for president of the United States, using OAR as his exploratory committee, and in doing so is raising and spending funds that are beyond the contribution limits and source restrictions of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
On January 27, 2015, in the midst of this testing the waters activity, Gov. Walker announced he had created OAR. Although OAR is not registered with the Commission, Gov. Walker is operating it as his exploratory committee for his run for president. OAR is functioning as a temporary home for Gov. Walker’s presidential political team until he formally announces his candidacy. In its few weeks of existence, OAR has hired numerous political advisors and consultants who are expected to conduct his presidential campaign. OAR’s executive director is former Republican National Committee (“RNC”) political director Rick Wiley, who is widely expected to be Gov. Walker’s campaign manager. OAR also hired: Matt Mason, the RNC’s former field director, as its national political director; David Polyansky, a political strategist who ran Iowa political campaigns for former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), as senior Iowa advisor; pollster and political consultant Ed Goeas as a senior advisor; Brian Tringali and B.J. Martino, two members of Mr. Goeas’ firm who worked for Gov. Walker on his previous gubernatorial campaigns, to oversee polling operations; Kirsten Kukowski, the RNC’s former deputy communications director/press secretary, as its communications director; and Mark Stephenson, a former campaign aide to Sen. Ernst, as the chief data officer.
Gov. Walker also is conducting fundraisers around the county for OAR that appear to be tied to his potential candidacy. Gov. Walker recently held fundraisers for OAR in California, Colorado, Tennessee, and New Jersey, and he plans to raise more money in New York and Florida in the near future.
OAR touts that it accepts unlimited contributions from individual, corporations, and political action committees. At least one large contribution to OAR appears to be directly linked to Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign. Stanley Hubbard, a major donor to political campaigns, said he and his family are backing Gov. Walker for president and sent a $25,000 check to OAR, adding “we will do more.” Gov. Walker’s appeals also are generating other substantial contributions. According to a public press report, Gov. Walker “picked up a $100,000 check on the spot from one attendee” at a California fundraiser.
The purpose of the current fundraising is to “to raise enough money to finance Walker’s travel and pay for a staff.” Both of these functions support Gov. Walker’s testing the waters for a presidential campaign. OAR’s staff is comprised almost entirely of political operatives and
consultants, and in addition to traveling for fundraising, Gov. Walker has announced his plans to travel to “important primary states including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida in the coming weeks and months.”
Moreover, according to public press reports, Gov. Walker set up OAR to see if his ideas resonate with voters, and “‘if we see that’s a message that resonates, that would probably encourage us to go forward.’” This is further proof Gov. Walker is using OAR to decide whether the run for president.
- LEGAL ARGUMENT
The Act limits individual contributions to a candidate to $2,700 per election during the 2015-16 election cycle, and contributions from a multi-candidate political action committee to $5,000 per year. Candidates may not knowingly receive excessive contributions. Corporations
are strictly prohibited from making political contributions under the Act, and candidates are prohibited from accepting them. As such, an individual may not use contributions exceeding the Act’s limits or corporate money to fund testing the waters activities. Further, even though funds received for testing the waters activities are not initially considered contributions, such funds become contributions if the individual subsequently becomes a candidate. Thus, a candidate who accepted excessive contributions or corporate funds for testing the waters activities has accepted illegal contributions in violation of the Act.
By admitting he is “very interested” in running, appearing at multiple events showcasing potential presidential candidates, and making repeated visits to early primary states, Gov. Walker has made clear he is testing the waters for a presidential race. OAR’s activities to
date indicate it is operating as Gov. Walker’s exploratory committee. Gov. Walker has made plain he is using OAR to decide whether the run for president, and he is raising funds for OAR that are being used to pay for his travel and his staff of political advisors. As a result, any contributions he or OAR uses testing the waters may not exceed the Act’s limits or come from a corporation.
Gov. Walker and OAR violated the Act by accepting a $25,000 contribution from Mr. Hubbard far in excess of the prescribed limits. Gov. Walker and OAR further violated the Act by accepting a $100,000 contribution from an unknown contributor. OAR also accepts corporate contributions, and while it is not clear if either of these contributions or any other contributions to OAR came from corporations, if they did, those contributions also would violate the Act.
- REQUESTED ACTION
respectfully request that the Commission promptly investigate this violation, and that Respondents be enjoined from further violations and be fined the maximum amount permitted by law.