Mark Block

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Mark Block was the State Director of the Wisconsin chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP).[1] He has also founded or otherwise been involved in a variety of other groups, most of which include the word "Prosperity." [2]

On December 31, 2010, Block stepped down from AFP to become the Chief of Staff for Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.[3]

On November 7, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy filed a request asking that the Internal Revenue Service investigate Prosperity USA, a tax exempt group founded and led by Block, for possibly violating the IRS prohibition against charities participating in political campaigns. [4] The Center also asked the IRS to look into other groups associated with Block for potential tax code violations.


Block settled a lawsuit in 2001 accusing him of illegally coordinating a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice's re-election with an outside group. Block agreed to pay $15,000 and stay out of politics for three years.[5][6]

Block, while working for Americans for Prosperity, was involved in a vote-caging scheme in neighborhoods with large black and college student populations. Americans for Prosperity sent out mail with a "do not forward" order on it that could not be sent on to a new mailing address. If it bounced back, a letter would be used to block its recipient from voting so that they could only cast a provisional ballot.[7] Block played down the sincerity of the effort after admitting that it was he and Americans for Prosperity who had undertaken it. [8]

On October 30 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke a story revealing potential wrongdoing by Prosperity USA, a charity founded by Block. Financial documents showed that Prosperity USA paid more than $40,000 for campaign-related expenditures for Cain, including jets, travel, and computers. [9] Based on those documents, the Center for Media and Democracy filed a request with the IRS asking that they investigate Prosperity USA for violating the bar against charities participating in political campaigns, and also look into other charities associated with Block.[4]

Activities with Americans for Prosperity

Block was state director with Americans for Prosperity during the first round of tea party protests in 2009, which culminated in nation-wide demonstrations organized by AFP focused around demands for lower taxes. Block organized rallies in Milwaukee[10] Madison[11], LaCrosse[12]and Superior[13] among other cities.

Block led efforts by Americans for Prosperity to halt policies advanced by Governor Jim Doyle in 2009 to build more solar and wind energy in the state, saying that his group would "argue -- and quite loudly -- about the economic impact of some of the laws, regulations and fees that will come out of the governor's task force report." [14]

COO of Hermain Cain Presidential Campaign

In October of 2011, Block emerged as a high profile face for the presidential campaign of Herman Cain after he appeared in a campaign ad smoking a cigarette. Media reports revealed Blocks history of involvement in election-related scandals, as well as a foreclosure on his home and two drunk driving convictions.[15]

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources


  1. "Staff" Americans for Prosperity website, accessed September 2009.
  2. Brendan Fischer and Sara Jerving, CMD's Quick Guide to "The Blocktopus", the Center for Media and Democracy's, Nov. 8, 2011.
  3. Adele M. Stan Not an Employee? Herman Cain Had Mailing and Email Addresses at Koch's Americans For Prosperity HQ, Alternet, October 21, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 CMD Requests IRS Investigate Charity Accused of Fronting Private Jets for Presidential Campaign (press release),, Nov. 7, 2011.
  5. Associated Press Long ties to Koch brothers key to Cain's campaign, published article, USAToday, October 16, 2011
  6. Anne Landman Consider the Source: MacIver News Service,, March 15, 2011
  7. 6 things to know about Herman Cain Adele Stan, Alternet. Accessed October 26, 2011.
  8. Liberal group alleges tape reveals plan to challenge voters. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 20, 2010.
  9. Dan Bice, State firm's cash to Herman Cain may breach federal campaign, tax laws, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Oct. 30, 2011 (accessed Nov. 11, 2011).
  10. Bill Glauber, Thousands rally at Milwaukee tea party: Event stirs up anti-spending fervor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Accessed via EBSCOhost, October 21 2011.
  11. Dave Umhoefer, Madison health care meeting turns into pep rally. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Accessed via EBSCOhost, October 31, 2011
  12. Richard Mial, Conservative 'Tea Party' to feature speakers, chickencue. La Crosse Tribune, Accessed via EBSCOhost, October 31, 2011
  13. Shelley Nelson, Rally for more conservative government. Superior Telegram. Accessed via EBSCOhost, October 31, 2011.
  14. Lee Bergquist & Tom Content, Doyle panel votes to cut emissions, expand use of wind power, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Accessed via EBSCOHost. July 25, 2009.
  15. Ryan Foley, Top Cain aide has checkered past. Associated Press, October 28, 2011.