Money and Democracy

Published — February 24, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Koch brothers wade into Wisconsin union fight


Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit funded in part by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, has launched a 30-second television advertisement in Wisconsin that asks, “Who decides Wisconsin’s future: Voters or government unions?”

Charles G. and David H. Koch are primary financial supporters of the Virginia-based political organization. The ad goes on, “…Government workers fight to keep benefits far better than the private sector. Governor Walker has the courage to do what’s right for Wisconsin.”

The Center reported in October that Americans for Prosperity was one of the groups benefiting from new rules in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that has opened the floodgates to increased corporate and individual spending on politics. Americans for Prosperity, a group dedicated to the “return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits,” has state chapters all over the country.

Americans for Prosperity is closely linked to David Koch, the co-chairman of the Kansas-based energy giant Koch Industries. The group had announced plans last year to spend more than $40 million. David Koch, who last year gave a $1 million check to the Republican Governors Association and is a longtime backer of conservative causes, heads the board of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a sister nonprofit.

Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign. Americans for Prosperity was a key Republican backer during the last Congressional elections. The organization was the largest spender on House races in a one-month period late last summer, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group.

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