Wisconsin Progressive Group Quietly Takes Funds From Unions

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A report released Monday found that an influential Wisconsin progressive group quietly changed its tune on union contributions only after Scott Walker became governor.

The Center for Media and Democracy is an exceedingly important part of progressive advocacy in Wisconsin. The group was once was able to say it did not take union funds to accomplish its goals, but that all quietly changed since Walker became governor, according to a report by the Center for Union Facts.

Walker has been a main target of unions since reforming labor policy in the state.

“CMD, which criticizes conservative groups for a lack of transparency, does not disclose this union funding in its annual IRS filings or on its website,” CUF states in its report.

The group publishes PRWatch, ALECexposed and SourceWatch along with other sources in an attempt to expose who is influencing conservative groups and politicians with political contributions.

“CMD’s niche is investigating and exposing the undue influence of corporations and front groups on public policy, including PR campaigns, lobbying, and electioneering,” the group notes on its website.

“CMD does NOT accept grants from corporations or government agencies,” the group also stated. “Contributions from individuals and non-profit organizations are accepted.”

However, as CUF points out, this stance does not mean the progressive group receives most of its support from grassroots supporters.

CUF states, “According to an analysis of the organization’s 2013 tax return which was recently filed, CMD’s six largest ($25,000 or more) contributors…account for 72% of CMD’s grant and contribution revenue.”

These large contributors include unions like the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees along with the Service Employees International Union.

“The statement that CMD would not take money from labor unions quietly disappeared,” CUF notes. “It is unknown precisely why this occurred, although the closeness to the 2010 elections cannot be ignored.”

The union contributions also seemed to have a huge influence on the group’s priorities. In February 2011, not long after they began quietly taking union money, CMD started going after Walker. This included a detailed “special report” on the governor’s relationship with a conservative foundation.

Walker became a target of labor unions during his first term when he worked with the state’s Republican legislature to pass a labor reform initiative, known as Act 10. The act significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees within the state.

Many local and national unions tried defeating Walker in a recall election and the 2014 Midterm Election. Walker, however, was able to defeat them each time.

The Daily Caller News Foundation could not reach CMD for comment.

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