Wisconsin Republicans Vote Against Workers—Raise Money From DC Lobbyists

Host Firm is Lobbyist for Major Walker Donors, Foreign Corporations and Government

Washington, D.C.—Next week, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers will appear at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser on March 16th hosted by one of the country’s biggest lobbying firms, BGR Group, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The lobbying firm’s clients include major foreign corporations and Wisconsin Energies Corp., whose executives were major donors to Governor Scott Walker’s (R-Wisc.) campaign.

The special interest fundraiser follows last night’s Senate passage of anti-worker legislation under allegations that the chamber broke the state’s open meeting laws and its own operating rules.

“Last night’s anti-democratic vote showed that Governor Walker’s budget bill was about destroying and defunding political opposition--not the budget. Next week’s fundraiser will be when Wisconsin Republicans pick up their financial rewards,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund.

Public Campaign Action Fund’s review of data from the Center for the Responsive Politics and National Institute on Money in State Politics found that BGR received $320,000 to lobby for WE Energies in 2009 and 2010, and that their executives donated at least $10,800 to Walker’s campaign. One of the donors, Heather Liebham, is the wife of Republican State Sen. Joe Liebham. WE Energy could very well benefit from a provision in Gov. Walker’s budget that would privatize state-owned energy companies through no-bid contracts.

When attending the fundraiser, Wisconsin’s Republican leaders will be at a lobbying firm that represents a significant number of foreign interests and governments, some of which will raise concerns about the outsourcing of jobs overseas. BGR’s clients include:

  • The Republic of India paid BGR $1,120,000 since 2009 to represent its interests in Washington.
  • India’s Reliance Industries paid BGR $1,520,000 from 2009 to 2010. Reliance, as its website says, "is India's largest private sector enterprise, with businesses in the energy and materials value chain." News reports describe Reliance Industries as India’s largest oil company.
  • BGR represents both the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, receiving a combined $280,000 since 2009 to represent the controversial overseas affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government paid BGR $1,130,000 from 2009 to 2010. 
  • Russia-based Alfa Bank paid the firm $510,000 in 2010. According to Alfa's website, it is the "top Russian private bank by total assets, total equity and customer accounts." They have a presence in several countries, including the United States.

“This is our pay-to-play political system at its worst,” said Donnelly. “Not only are Wisconsin Republicans smashing the rights of working Wisconsinites, they’re raising money at an event hosted by a lobbying firm whose interests include a who’s who of special interests here and abroad.”