Scott Walker John Doe, Electioneering Ad Examples from 2011-2012

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This is a list of some of the ads from the 2011/2012 Wisconsin Elections that constitute express advocacy or its functional equivalent. This is an addendum to CMD's report Leaked Documents Show Court's Dismissal of the John Doe Was Based on a False Premise available on

Ads Attributed to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

  • Can’t Afford to Spin Our Wheels (2012): This ad praises Walker for making “tough choices” to balance the budget and “lay a solid foundation for job creation,” against a video of a Jeep climbing a steep hill. It then says, “But some want to slip backwards, with higher taxes and reckless spending, fewer jobs, and endlessly fighting old battles,” as the jeeps slides back down the hill. It ends by saying, “We can’t afford to spin our wheels again.” The screen for the final two seconds asks voters to call a legislative hotline and “Tell them – ‘Don’t go back.’
  • Turn Back the Clock (2012): Criticizes Tom Barrett’s performance as Mayor of Milwaukee and says, “Wisconsin families want an economy that produces jobs, not one that turns back the clock, like Tom Barrett’s way of mismanaging an economy.” The ad concludes by saying, “Tell Mayor Barrett you support economic policies that move Wisconsin forward, not back in time.” While cleverly disguised as an issue ad about Milwaukee, the focus is on his qualifications for statewide office, and it does not reference any actual policies.
  • Weak on Criminals (March 2011): This ad shows Justice Prosser challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg saying, “I never said I was tough on crime,” repeatedly and then ends by telling viewers to call her and tell her that, “being weak on criminals is dangerous for Wisconsin families.” The ad is an attack on Kloppenburg’s fitness for office; it is not an appeal for the public or Kloppenburg to take action on any legal matter.
  • Prosser Protects Wisconsin Families (March 2011): The ad features praise for Justice Prosser from sheriffs, DAs, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for his work as a “capable” justice “who has protected families,” and then asks voters to call Prosser to thank him. The ad is praising Prosser’s qualifications for office, not asking the public or Prosser to support any particular issue.

Ads Attributed to Republican Governors Association

Tom Barrett, Backward (April 2012): Criticizes Barrett for being divisive and says “Don’t let Tom Barrett take us backwards.”

Tom Barrett, Time Machine (May 2012): Criticizes Barrett, says taxes would go up under Barrett while screen text reads, “Next Governor?” Ad ends by saying “Tom Barrett: He’d take Wisconsin back.

Ads Attributed to Republican State Legislative Committee

Jim Holperin, Budget Hole (August 2011): Criticizes district 12 Senator Jim Holperin for “caus[ing] a half a billion dollar hole” in Wisconsin’s budget and concludes by saying, “Stop Holperin.”

Ads Attributed to Citizens for a Strong America (later revealed to be an offshoot of WCFG)

JoAnne Kloppenburg, Wrong (April 2011): This ad shows a victim of abuse criticizing Kloppenburg for an ad critical of Prosser, saying it is false and she knows it but refuses to repudiate it. It ends with an appeal to call Kloppenburg and tell her, “She is wrong to oppose victims of abuse.” The ad is an attack on Kloppenburg’s character, not an appeal for the public or Kloppenburg to take action on any pending issue.

Ads Attributed to Wisconsin Family Action

Fred Clark, Driving Record (July 2011): This ad criticizes Fred Clark, the Democrat challenger in the SenateDistrict 14 recall election, for his driving record. The ad was clearly about Clark’s character and qualifications for office. Wisconsin Family Action works on anti-abortion and marriage issues; it has no record of advocacy on road safety. The ad has been pulled down, but see this news account.

Ads Attributed to Wisconsin Club for Growth

Shelly Moore, Solutions Not Shouting (July 2011): This ad criticizes Shelly Moore, Democrat challenger in the Senate District 10 recall election, for being divisive, showing footage of her saying, “This is war,” and pro-union statements at Madison protests. It ends by saying, “Tell Shelly Moore we need solutions, not shouting.” The ad criticizes the candidate’s character and trustworthiness.