By Rebecca Kemble, Arthur Kohl-Riggs and Nicole Schulte
On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Arthur Kohl-Riggs of Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State interviewed Brian Fraley, Communications Director of the MacIver Institute. MacIver describes itself as a “Wisconsin-based think tank that promotes free markets, individual freedom, personal responsibility and limited government.” In other words, it’s a rightwing propaganda machine, and this year it has taken the lead in promoting Scott Walker and his recall campaign entitled, “It’s Working!”
MacIver was targeted during a national day of protesting about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council in public policy. They were singled out because of their ties to the rightwing Bradley Foundation, which is a major ALEC supporter and MacIver donor. When asked about the protest, Fraley claimed he didn’t know that MacIver was being protested for their links to Bradley. In a stunning feat of verbal gymnastics, Fraley said, “we don’t comment on our donors, but if you look at the Bradley Foundation annual report you will see that they do grant us money.” Kohl-Riggs did look at the report and discovered that Bradley gave MacIver over $300,000 over the past 3 years.
MacIver partners with Americans For Prosperity in the Scott Walker PR blitz called “It’s Working!” even though as 501(c)(3) organizations they are not allowed to directly campaign for candidates. When confronted with this fact Fraley said, “The ‘It’s Working!’ campaign has everything to do with policy changes. In none of our communications have we mentioned any political candidate.”
In a recent interview with Stacey Singer of the Palm Beach Post, the Chairman of Americans For Prosperity, David Koch, said, “We’re helping him (Walker), as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years… We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.”
Kohl-Riggs asked Fraley about this comment, to which he responded, “You’re going to have to ask him. If a donor has a certain motivation to make a certain donation you’ll have to ask that donor. Other people cannot speak for the motivations of other people donating money.”
Fraley added, “Without a fact, um, without a doubt, the money we have spent on the ‘It’s Working!’ campaign is based on legislative reference bureau statistics and independent reporting throughout the state based on public policy.” The Democratic Party of Wisconsin disagrees, and is making a case that, based on Koch’s comments in the Singer interview, AFP violated campaign rules and their 501(c)(3) status. Last week they filed complaints with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and the IRS.
Kohl-Riggs also pushed Fraley on whether or not Scott Walker’s budget and jobs policy was working. He pointed out that with a projected $143 million loss for the 2011-2013 budget period, Wisconsin is deeper in the fiscal hole than when Walker took office.
On jobs Kohl-Riggs said, “As soon as Walker’s policies went into effect we saw seven consecutive months of job losses. Is that working?” Fraley admitted, “The job losses are absolutely troubling and things are going to have to change in the private sector. He did however, end 2011 with a net gain in jobs.” This figure is disputed by Arthur, who said, “When we find out that Walker has a net loss of jobs will you admit that it is no longer working?”
In conclusion, Brian Fraley said, “The ‘It’s Working!’ campaign is about local governments being given the flexibility to adjust their budgets so they don’t have to lay employees off.” This sparked a heated exchange about the non-financial aspects lost with the abolition of collective bargaining having to do with working conditions. “There are still tons of protections in place for public employees. Tons. Tons,” said Fraley. Kohl-Riggs pointed out that the only reason that those protections exist in state statute is due to workers fighting for them through bargaining collectively, an irony completely lost on the man who would justify their destruction.