Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

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Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) is a business association formed through a merger of the Wisconsin Manufacturers Association, the State Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Council of Safety. It is the Wisconsin chapter of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
Type PAC and Business Association
Founded 1911
Headquarters Madison, WI
Number of locations Wisconsin

Activities in the 2011/2012 Wisconsin Recall Elections


WMC has spent at least $2 million influencing the recall. It also has a long history of supporting right-wing politicians and causes. Like the national Chamber of Commerce, it is organized as a 501(c)6, but it also controls a 501(c)4 (the "WMC Issues Council"), which is the source of most of the WMC's ads. WMC does not disclose its donors. [1]

WMC's ads have repeated Walker's theme that under his policies the state has been creating jobs. However, their numbers disagree with Walker's. One WMC ad claims that 15,000 jobs were created in the past year, while Walker claims in his latest TV ads to have created 33,2000. Both numbers contradict official estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which indicate that Wisconsin lost 21,400 jobs from April 2011 to April 2012. [2]

Lobbying Activity

WMC has established three separate political funds, each with a distinct strategic purpose. You can select to participate in any or all of these funds.[3]

Concerned Business & Industry (CBI) CBI is a traditional political action committee (PAC). All donations must be in the form of personal checks, or transfers from another political action committee. The CBI board of directors decides which candidates to support, focusing on candidates in key targeted Senate and Assembly races. CBI contributions will be used primarily to fund independent expenditure campaigns, phone banks, radio or print ads, as well as direct mail.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reports that between 2008 and 2010, CBI gave $23,049 in political contributions to Wisconsin candidates.

Capitol Gains Club (CGC) CGC is a conduit entity organized under Wis. Stat. 11.01 (5). When you contribute funds to CGC, the money is transferred to the candidate(s) you select. To participate, simply make your personal check payable to the CGC. From time to time, we will recommend that you make contributions from your CGC account to specific candidates in key races. However, with this fund, it is entirely your decision who receives your contribution.

WMC Issues Mobilization Council (IMC) WMC IMC delivers the business message to Wisconsin residents at election time, and during the legislative session. WMC IMC can accept unlimited corporate contributions, and donations are strictly confidential. WMC IMC is a registered 501 C 4 organization, and is overseen by a board of directors. WMC IMC’s most recent audit by Grant Thornton reported that 95 percent of all funds were used to deliver the business message! Since 1996, WMC IMC has led campaigns resulting in the expansion of pro-business majorities in the Legislature and the passage of major pro-business legislation.

WMC Political Research Fund This fund is used to conduct polls in targeted districts to determine candidate viability and issue sensitivity. Armed with this information, we can ensure that political resources will go to those candidates who have the best chance of winning. The WMC Political Research Fund can accept corporate contributions.

Individual Political Contributions

Sign from Wisconsin 2011 protests

WMC Watch reports that "WMC board members and staff have overwhelmingly supported Republicans and non-partisan conservative candidates. Of the $1,135,541 donated by WMC board and staff, 82 percent – or $930,746 was given to Republicans ($893,329) and conservatives ($37,417).

This compares to 18 percent – or $204,795 given to Democrats ($193,595) and liberals ($11,200)."

Although many individuals associated with WMC gave campaign contributions, listed are the biggest donors[4]:

  • James Haney - President of WMC: $29,343
  • Rajan Sheth - President & CEO of Mead & Hunt Inc.: $26,150
  • Thomas Boldt - CEO of The Boldt Company: $85,975
  • Barbara Swan - President & CEO of WI Power & Light Company: $28,475
  • Tod Linstroth - Senior Partner of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP: $42,215
  • José Delgado - President & CEO of American Transmission Company: $55,321
  • John Torinus - Chairman of Serigraph Inc.: $117,350
  • Todd Wanek - President & CEO of Ashley Furniture Industries: $62,850
  • Larry Rambo - Great Lakes Region CEO of Humana, Inc.: $46,164
  • Mark Furlong - Marshall & Ilsley Corporation: $23,630

Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors Contributions[5]:

  • Mark Cullen - Chairman of JP Cullen & Sons Inc.: $159,065
  • Randall Knox - W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.: $156,218
  • Richard Teerlink - Retired Chairman of Harley Davidson Inc.: $49,450
  • Robert O'Toole - Retired Chairman of A.O. Smith Corp.: $47,790
  • Terry Growcock - Chairman & CEO of The Manitowoc Co.: $27,102

Campaigns and Influence

State Government:

  • "Las Vegas Loophole" (2009): Democratic legislators were targeted for supporting the stimulus bill because of the end to the so-called “Las Vegas Loophole.” Before elimination, the Las Vegas Loophole, supported by WMC, allowed companies to avoid paying taxes on profits made in Wisconsin by opening up a post office box “phantom office” in a state without corporate income taxes, like Nevada. This scheme lost Wisconsin $90 million annually in evaded corporate taxes.[6]
  • Capital Gains Taxes (2009): Ran deceptive print advertisements about state budget plan to put Wisconsin’s capital gains taxes in line with the rest of the country. Currently, the top one percent of income earners get 64 percent of the benefit of the current capital gains loophole and 83 percent of the benefit goes to those in the top five percent of income earners – meaning people earning more than $152,000 a year.[7]
  • Recent Campaign Ads: View three ads that were published about taxes here.
  • A long list of recent television ads for 2010-2011 can be seen here. Issues lobbied for include: the 2011 State Supreme Court Justice (pro-Prosser); Global Warming vs. Job creation (pro-job creation); Congressional ads for Kapanke, Duffy and Kagen; Radio ads against Senator Kathy Vinehout and former Senator John Lehman to name a few.

State Supreme Court:

  • Mike Gableman (2008): WMC ran over $2 million in advertisements for Gableman, a conservative, pro-corporate candidate.[8]

Federal Government

  • Employee Free Choice Act.: In the first half of 2009, ads opposing the Employee Free Choice Act were run offering provably-false claims about the proposed federal legislation. U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Steve Kagen and Sen. Herb Kohl were noted in WMC television and radio ads. Print ads featuring Kind were also run.[9]


  • 2011 President and CEO of WMC: Kurt R. Bauer - "Bauer has worked for banking trade associations for 18 years, including the last seven as the President/CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). Prior to that, Bauer headed the Phoenix-based Arizona Bankers Association, and also served as WBA’s chief lobbyist."
  • James S. Haney - WMC president
  • James A. Buchen - WMC vice president of government relations
  • James R. Morgan - WMC vice president of education and programs

Board Members [10]

  • William D. Gehl - Chairman & CEO of Gehl Company
  • Terry D. Growcock - Chairman & CEO of The Manitowoc Company, Inc.
  • Timothy L. Christen - CEO of Virchow, Krause & Company, LLP and WMC treasurer
  • Tod B. Linstroth - Sr. Partner & Member of Management Committee, Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP and WMC secretary
  • Thomas J. Boldt - CEO of The Boldt Company and WMC vice chair.
  • Curtis Hoppestad - Factory manager of John Deere Horicon Works of Deere & Company
  • Thomas Howatt - President & CEO of Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation
  • William R. Morgan - COO of Johnsonville Sausage, LLC
  • Thomas Quadracci - Chairman & CEO of Quad/Graphics, Inc.
  • Andy Randall - President of US Bank Corp., Milwaukee
  • Edward Zore - President & CEO of Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee
  • John Beckord - President of Forward Janesville, Inc.
  • Joseph P. Colwin - President of Mid-States Aluminum Corporation
  • Thomas J. Boldt - CEO of The Boldt Company
  • William R. Castle, Jr. - President of Castle-Pierce Printing Company
  • John Menard - Owner of Menards


  • Forward Wisconsin is associated with WMC and "markets the state to corporate executives, site selection consultants, business decision-makers and investors to raise awareness that Wisconsin is a great place to do business and to encourage investment in Wisconsin."[11]
  • The Wisconsin Department of Commerce works in conjunction with WMC to promote business growth and an "open for business" attitude.[12]
  • The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin is an association with 37 corporate board members and several CEO's and Wisconsin business leader partners.[13] Their Web site states that "The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin (under Dane County Private Industry Council) was formed in 1983 to discover and develop effective workforce solutions to prepare local workers and businesses to be successful in an increasingly competitive global market. One of the primary responsibilities of the Workforce Development Board is the administration of Workforce Investment Act-funded initiatives and programs. Since that time, we've become a national leader in our ability to form strategic partnerships that result in ground-breaking solutions to workforce development challenges."[14]

External links

  • WMC Watch criticizes WMC's "army of lobbyists, pro-corporate position papers, paid researchers and seemingly limitless financial resources" that wield "an influence which warrants attention and demands scrutiny."

Contact information

Mailing Address
PO Box 352
Madison, WI 53701-0352

Physical Address
501 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703-2944

Tele: (608) 258-3400
Fax: (608) 258-3413
Website: http://www.wmc.org