Earlier this month, Wisconsin U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa issued an injunction that effectively allows outside groups to coordinate with political campaigns on so-called “issue advocacy,” overturning a longstanding Wisconsin campaign finance law banning such coordination. Given that Randa has ties to the the billionaire Koch brothers, who fund several outside groups that would very much like to see Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker win reelection, we likened his ruling to the proverbial fox guarding the campaign finance henhouse.
As it turns out, it’s even a stretch to suggest in jest that Randa is guarding the state’s campaign finance regulations.
In a separate ruling in September, Randa dealt another major blow to Wisconsin campaign finance statute, and the most recent financial disclosures from the Walker campaign show that he’s reaping the benefits from Randa’s newly-created loophole. Last month, Randa ruled that Wisconsin election officials should no longer enforce laws that cap the amount of money that political candidates — like Walker — can collect from PACs and campaign committees.
Prior to Randa’s ruling, the state’s limit for PAC contributions, which had been in place since 1990, was set at $700,830 for gubernatorial candidates. According to the Walker campaign’s latest campaign finance report filed last week, the campaign has accepted a whopping $2.6 million from political parties and political action committees. In total, that’s over three times the amount that was allowed by law, and almost $2 million of it coming in just the six weeks after Randa’s determination.
Put simply, Walker’s campaign has swiftly exploited Randa’s ruling on PAC contributions to bolster his campaign in the homestretch.
Walker’s status as a champion for Koch brothers and their allies is well-documented, with the billionaire brothers holding up his extreme right wing policies as exemplar of their political agenda. After all, prosecutors opened an investigation into illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and a Koch-affiliated group, Wisconsin Club for Growth, during the 2012 recall election. What’s clear from Randa’s rulings, and the fact that he’s attended multiple Koch-sponsored junkets, is that Randa, too, is a Koch ally, who appears to be pursuing a concerted effort to roll back Wisconsin campaign finance laws to the benefit of Scott Walker and his political allies.
Background research after the jump.