Union-Backed “Issue Ad” PAC under Investigation Reappears in Wisc.

A Wisc. political action cmte. (PAC), backed by several unions and under investigation for alleged illegal coordination with a state senator, has reappeared with a new “issue ad” targeting a Republican senator.

In 2000, the so-called “Independent Citizens for Democracy” (ICD) was the second biggest spender in Wisc. leg. races behind the Wisc. Educ. Assn. Council. ICD received $202,500 from local unions, incl. $60,000 from Local 139 of the Intl Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), $59,500 from the Wisc. Dist. Council of the Laborers Intl. Union of N. Amer., and $26,500 from the Wisc. PAC of the Amer. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Two ICD officials — ex-treasurer Scott McCormick and current director Tom Boeder — have been granted immunity in an investigation of allegations that ICD illegally coordinated its advertising with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala. Ex-Chvala aide Sara Benedict sits on the ICD Board of Directors.

Despite the cloud of the investigation, ICD is sponsoring an ad targeting state Sen. Dave Zein for his support of a bill allowing Wisc. residents to carry concealed weapons. Zein charges that ICD falsely implies that the bill would allow the carrying of firearms into locations where they are currently banned altogether. The investigation is being carried out by prosecutors in Dane and Milwaukee counties. [Madison, WI, Capital Times  9/24/02, Wisc. Democracy Campaign]