David Koch , the billionaire supporter of conservative causes, told a Florida newspaper earlier this year that he would be doing what he could to help Gov. Scott Walker win the recall election.
“We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” Koch said. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”
Here’s more proof of that:
Koch personally gave $1 million earlier this year to the Republican Governors Association, which is running ads statewide supporting Walker and criticizing the top two Democratic candidates – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
The information on the donation is listed in federal tax records filed this week.
A spokeswoman for Koch downplayed the contribution, saying it went for the general support of the Republican group.
“All contributions made to the RGA go into our general fund and are not earmarked,” explained Mike Schrimpf, the group’s communications director.
Koch’s $1 million contribution comes on top of the cash that he and his brother, Charles, have given to Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group founded by the pair that aired a series of ads earlier this year supporting Walker’s budget proposals.
The political action committee for Koch Industries – an energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan. – also contributed $43,000 to Walker’s campaign in 2010.
Last year, a blogger embarrassed Walker by giving him a prank call in which the blogger pretended to be David Koch. Koch, a frequent target of liberals, told The New York Times at the time that he didn’t even know Walker’s name.
Now Walker has become one of his favorite causes.
He’s not alone in that.
The Republican governors’ group has made Walker’s recall contest one of its top priorities.
Under the name Right Direction Wisconsin, the RGA has bought slightly more than $3 million worth of TV time to air its commercials in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau, according to political insiders.
Schrimpf declined to confirm those numbers.
“We never reveal campaign strategy or ad buys so as to not tip off the other side,” he said.
Overall, the group reported that it had raised more than $12.3 million and spent $5.6 million in the first three months of the year. Not all of that money went to the ads supporting Wisconsin’s Republican governor.
A number of those making donations to the group have ties to Walker.
David Humphreys, president and CEO of Tamko Building Products in Missouri, gave $250,000 to the RGA in February. A month earlier, he gave the same amount to Walker’s campaign fund.
Likewise, hedge fund founder Bruce Kovner, a former chairman of the American Enterprise Institute, kicked in another quarter-million dollars to the Republican group in January, just days after he contributed $100,000 directly to Walker.
Also, John Nau, president and chairman of Silver Eagle Distributors in Houston, donated $40,000 to Walker for the recall in late November. He gave the RGA another $25,000 in March.
Several Wisconsin-based firms coughed up cash for the governors’ group. Among them were the Kohler Co., which gave $25,000; American Transmission Co., $50,000; and Wisconsin Public Service Corp., $10,000.
And then there’s a contribution of $100-grand from Donald Trump, chairman and president of the The Trump Organization, in early January.
No word on whether The Donald is a fan of The Governor.
Cooperating witnessWalker personally owed the law firms for his two criminal defense lawyers more than $55,000 at the end of 2011, according to his recently filed financial disclosure statement.
Walker said in February that he had hired former federal prosecutor John Gallo and Milwaukee defense attorney Michael Steinle to assist him with the ongoing John Doe investigation into activities during Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee’s county executive.
But the first-term governor must have retained the pair long before he made it public.
As of Dec. 31, Walker owed more than $50,000 to Sidley Austin, a large Chicago-based firm that employs Gallo. Walker also disclosed that he owed from $5,000 to $50,000 to Terschan, Steinle & Ness, the Milwaukee firm where Steinle is a partner.
The state requires public officials and political candidates to disclose in the annual statement any creditor to which they owe more than $5,000. Wisconsin officials and candidates then must say whether the debt is greater than or up to $50,000.
Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said her boss had disclosed this information in accordance with the law.
“As has been the case with other questions regarding the process, status and details of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s progress, the governor and his campaign will continue to follow Mr. (John) Chisholm’s lead on additional disclosures,” Matthews said.
The governor announced in early February that he had hired Steinle and Gallo to help him prepare for a meeting with Milwaukee County prosecutors, who are directing the John Doe probe. Walker has not disclosed if he has met with Chisholm.
In March, Walker created a defense fund to help him pay his legal bills.
In addition, Walker’s campaign fund has paid two law firms – Michael Best & Friedrich of Milwaukee and Patton Boggs of Washington, D.C. – slightly more than $115,000. Walker said the campaign retained former U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic of Michael Best after prosecutors subpoenaed campaign email in November 2010.
Prosecutors in Chisholm’s office launched the John Doe probe nearly two years ago. They have filed criminal charges against three of Walker’s county aides, one former appointee and a major campaign contributor.