Jobs First Coalition

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The Jobs First Coalition (JFC) is a 501(c)(4) established in 2009 to support Wisconsin Republican legislative candidates in the 2010 fall elections, 2011 spring special election and August 2011 recall elections. JFC describes itself as working "to make the creation and retention of family supporting jobs the top priority of policymakers and community leaders in Wisconsin,"[1] but JFC is a dark money "issue ad" group founded by American Federation for Children (AFC) lobbyist Scott Jensen. Scott Jensen on LinkedIn says he helped create the Jobs First Coalition in 2009 and is described as a senior strategist, as of September 22, 2016.[2]

JFC was one of the shell groups under investigation in the "John Doe II" probe into whether or not Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker illegally coordinated with dark money groups in 2011-2012 recall elections.[3] JFC was one of the groups working closely with top Walker aides during the period, as emails posted by the Guardian in 2016 show. JFC appears to be one of the shell groups or "brands" utilized by top Walker aides to make it appear that ads in support of Walker came from multiple parties.[4] In 2013, the group received $60,000 from the tobacco firm Reynolds American.[5][6]

JFC has an affiliated 527 spending organization, the Jobs First Coalition Political Fund, which registered as an independent expenditure group with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in 2013, in doing so the organization swore an oath not to coordinate with candidates or their agents.

Scott Walker John Doe II Investigation

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John Doe I: In May 2010, Judge Neil Nettesheim authorized Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, to begin a John Doe investigation involving Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, his staff and associates. The investigation resulted in 15 felony indictments for six people who have been sentenced for a variety of crimes including misconduct in office. This investigation was closed in March 2013 and no charges were brought against Walker.[7] Subsequently, documents uncovered in this investigation were used in John Doe II.

John Doe II: In February 2012, another John Doe investigation (referred to as "John Doe II") was authorized by Judge Barbara Kluka to investigate potentially illegal campaign coordination between Friends of Scott Walker and outside spending groups who were required to work independently of the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recall elections. Because this investigation involved individuals who lived in five counties across the state, the probe has involved five District Attorneys, from both the Republican and Democratic parties. A special prosecutor was appointed to lead the multi-county investigation, veteran federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz, a Republican who voted for Walker in 2012.[8] The investigation was shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in July 2015, four judges on the court were elected with the assistance of the same dark money groups under investigations; two justices were requested to recuse and declined to recuse themselves from the case.

Ties between the Wisconsin Club for Growth and the Jobs First Coalition was one of the issues under investigation in the Scott Walker John Doe II along with numerous other electioneering groups.[3]

In 2011, Wisconsin Club for Growth gave $425,000 to the Jobs First Coalition which amounted to nearly half of the $927,860 that the group raised that year, JFC then gave $245,000 of this to American Federation for Children (AFC).[9] JFC was also an active player in the 2011 recall elections, that year it raised and spent over $1 million, but the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign could only account for $100,000 of JFC's advertising spending. This includes a number of mailings attacking Democratic candidates in contested districts.[10] In 2012, Wisconsin Club for Growth gave $250,000 directly to AFC.[11]

On September 14, 2016 The Guardian released a trove of over 1,500 pages of leaked emails and court documents pertaining to the Wisconsin John Doe II investigation. The documents show that Walker's top aides considered JFC one of their "brands" and shows them directing JFC and AFC ads placements and disclaimer information.[4]

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Requested Criminal Investigation into JFC for Misleading Mailers

The Jobs First Coalition came under scrutiny when it sent out mailers attacking WI Rep. Steve Doyle (D-94) in the Wisconsin legislative special election in 2011. The mailers falsely accused Doyle of paying his property taxes late and included a photo-shopped image of the Representative with "You pay on time, I don't" written on his palms.[12]

Steve Doyle defeated John Lautz 54 percent to 46 percent on May 3, 2011.

Jensen's AFC Has Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

AFC is an ALEC member and is represented by Scott Jensen on the ALEC Education Task Force. Jensen has proposed bills to ALEC on behalf of AFC/ASC that were adopted as “model” legislation. For example, in March 2011, Jensen presented to the ALEC Education Task Force the “Education Savings Account Act,” which creates financial incentives for families to take their children out of the public school system and put them in for-profit primary and secondary schools.

AFC was a "Trustee" level sponsor of ALEC’s 2011 Annual Conference – which, according to data from 2010, equated to a $5,000 payment to ALEC.

Speaker of the Assembly Scott Jensen Charged with Misconduct in Public Office in 2002

In an effort to put an end to state lawmakers doing political work on the public dime, Madison's Democratic district attorney Brian Blanchard began a John Doe prosecution of the capitol's Republican and Democratic leaders in 2002. Over some years, he secured multiple felony convictions of leaders of both political parties, in an investigation dubbed "the caucus scandal."

While Democratic Senator Chuck Chvala pled guilty and ended up serving time in work release and Democratic Senator Brian Burke pled guilty and served time under house arrest, Republican House Speaker Scott Jensen was initially convicted of three felony counts. In 2007, Jensen was able to change the venue for his proceeding after colleagues in the legislature passed a law allowing politicians charged with campaign violations to have their cases tried in the county of their residence. When Jensen moved his case to conservative Waukesha County, he was able to settle the matter with Republican AG Brad Schimel. In 2010, Jensen reached a plea agreement with Schimel, where he avoided all jail time and paid just a $5,000 fine and lawyers' fees.[13]

JFC and JFC Political Fund Estimated Election Spending

Estimates for Job First Coalition's election spending were compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

  • 2013 special election: $66,500[6]
  • 2012: $10,000[14]
  • 2011 recall and special elections: $100,000[10]
  • 2010: $150,000[15]

Core Financials

2014[16]

  • Total Revenue: $1,417,918
  • Total Expenses: $1,621,660
  • $340,000 to American Federation for Children (AFC), $187,000 to American Majority, $120,000 to the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, $150,000 to the First Amendment Alliance Fund and $175,000 to the Jobs First Coalition Political Fund
  • Net Assets: $209,132

2013[17]

  • Total Revenue: $525,625
  • Total Expenses: $218,305
  • Net Assets: $412,875

2012[18]

  • Total Revenue: $1,386,513
  • Total Expenses: $1,308,898
  • 2012: $380,000 to AFC and $250,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth
  • Net Assets: $105,557.76

2011[19]

  • Total Revenue: $927,860
  • Total Expenses: $994,308
  • 2011: $245,000 to AFC and $75,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth
  • Net Assets: $27,924

2010[20]

  • Total Revenue: $898,676
  • Total Expenses: $877,327
  • Net Assets: $94,392

2009[20]

  • Total Revenue: $95,250
  • Total Expenses: $24,206
  • Net Assets: $71,044

Personnel

The Board of Directors as of the organization's 2014 IRS 990 tax filing:[16]

  • Mary Jo Baas, President
  • Candee Arndt, Vice-President
  • Mike Dean, Secretary
  • Rob Reddin, Executive Director
  • John Gard

Contact

EIN: 27-0755923

The Jobs First Coalition
P.O. Box 2071
Brookfield, Wisconsin 53008
Phone: 414-429-2024
Email: jfc@jobsfirstcoalition.com

References

  1. Jobs First Coalition, Home, organizational website, accessed September 22, 2016.
  2. Scott Jensen, Scott Jensen, LinkedIn, accessed July 15, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Robert Stelter, AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF A REQUEST FOR SUBPOENAS, court document, October 1, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Guardian document leak, Ad Coordination, Documentcloud, accessed October 4, 2016.
  5. Reynolds American, 2013 Corporate Contributions to 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) Organizations, financial disclosure, accessed September 23, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Hijacking Campaign 2013: Jobs First Coalition Political Fund, organizational website, accessed September 22, 2016.
  7. Daniel Bice and Scott Umhoefer, "John Doe probe of Scott Walker office closed with no new charges," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 2, 2013.
  8. Daniel Bice, Secret Probe Spreads to Five Wisconsin Counties, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 21, 2013.
  9. Brendan Fischer, "WI Club for Growth, Target of Walker Recall Probe, at Center of Dark Money Web," Center for Media and Democracy, November 18, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Hijacking Special Elections and Recall 2011: Jobs First Coalition, organizational website, January 16, 2014.
  11. Wisconsin Club for Growth, 2012 Form 990, organizational IRS filing, accessed July 5, 2016.
  12. Bety Bloom, Doyle wants legal action against mailings, La Crosse Tribune, April 22, 2011.
  13. Mary Bottari, AG Candidate Supports Reforming John Doe Law to Protect Politicians, PRWatch, October 22, 2014.
  14. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Hijacking Campaign 2012: Jobs First Coalition, organizational website, January 17, 2014.
  15. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Hijacking Campaign 2010: Jobs First Coalition, organizational website, January 17, 2014.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jobs First Coalition, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, June 15, 2015.
  17. Jobs First Coalition, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, May 15, 2014.
  18. Jobs First Coalition, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, June 1, 2013.
  19. Jobs First Coalition, 2011 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, June 12, 2012.
  20. 20.0 20.1 ProPublica, JOBS FIRST COALITION INC, ProPublica nonprofit explorer, accessed September 23, 2016.