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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Billboard Update

by capper

First, let me say that I noticed I forgot to include the promised link to the web page for the Thomas Paine Democracy Network. Here is the link. I apologize for the inconvenience.

As I stated in my previous post on this matter, the campaign for Senator Taylor denied any involvement. To verify this there is also a posting on (my error):


A spokesman for state Sen. Lena Taylor's Milwaukee County exec campaign says a billboard campaign against incumbent Walker launched by a third-party issue group is "outside the control of the campaign"and not helpful to her bid.

"We've seen how races get hijacked by outside groups, and that's bad for candidates and it's bad for voters," said Taylor's campaign manager, John Zapfel. "This is something that we don't think helpsLena."

But Walker campaign spokesman Tim Russell said the Taylor campaign has also benefited by polling conducted by Progressive Majority on itsbehalf and that the Taylor campaign has picked up on and used the themes and information the outside efforts have generated.

"Their claims that from their perspectives it doesn't help them don't ring true to me,' Russell said.

A YouTube video posted by the Thomas Paine Democracy Network, a 501c organization, shows several variations of billboards up in theMilwaukee area that address a county issue and end with the tag line,"I blame Scott Walker." The group is registered to Todd Rongstad, a consultant known for launching aggressive attacks. He was the subjectof a successful defamation lawsuit brought in 2004 by state Dem Sen.Julie Lassa over a mailer.

An e-mail sent to supporters by the Walker campaign told supportersthese "are the types of people that Lena Taylor and Jim Doyle are using to attack Scott Walker."

The campaign said the billboards show that outside groups are"preparing to open the floodgates in their attacks."

Russell noted that the source of the outside spending is unlimited and cannot be traced.

"This is not the way that we think campaigns should be run," Russell said.

Zapfel said it's likely other outside groups will crop up, and not just ones opposed to Walker.

"We just want to run a campaign for Lena to win no matter what these outside groups do," Zapfel said.

But Russell said Walker's raising and spending through his campaign,and he knows of no third party groups gearing up to support Walker.

"I know of nothing going on outside of that," Russell said. "In fact, I would discourage it."

*See the video:
*See the group's website:

Also, Michael Horne of MilwaukeeWorld left this comment on Sykes' posting on the subject:

I spoke to Lena Taylor about this. I also spoke with Les Johns, her advisor who volunteered, without asking, that the billboards came as a surprise to the campaign. I accept their word. I wouldn't trash Rongstadt too much, except perhaps for ideological inconsistency and unseemly opportunism. He's the best in the business at integrating images and succinct messages. However, this is not his best work. Scott Walker is such an easy target that I sense Todd isn't being challenged at all.

I also spoke with a Tory Griffin, from PEOPLE, the political arm of AFSCME. Mr. Griffin also stated that his organization has nothing to do with these billboards.

UPDATE: Daniel Bice of MSJ has added even more questions to who is responsible for the billboards.

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