MMAC opens money laundry for members | Wis.Community

MMAC opens money laundry for members

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) has added a new service for its corporate members -- a laundry for political contributions.

MMAC, a fancier name for the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, has contributed heavily to the Republican Governors Assn.(RGA), which has been running vicious ads attacking Tom Barrett as a monster, a guy who's raised taxes even more than Jim Doyle.  Horrors!

The RGA's latest report showed $115,000 in contributions from MMAC, and some hefty donations from MMAC board members as well -- $25,000 each from Ted Kellner of Fiduciary Management and Paul Jones of A.O. Smith, $20,000 from Jack McKeithan of Tamarack Patroleum and his wife Patty.  Those individual donations are in addition to the $115,000 reported as being from MMAC -- except that the $115,000 really is from some MMAC members.

MMAC is a group that supposedly works with the mayor of Milwaukee, no matter who it is, to promote economic development and improve the business climate, which is always reported by Republicans to be at an all-time low.  It's no secret that many of the corporate types at MMAC are Republican, but since Milwaukee either elects Democrats or Socialists as mayors it has tried to get along and appear somewhat non-partisan.

Paying for those commercials that are trying to rip the mayor's face off and derail his campaign for governor could make some of their relations with the city's CEO just a little strained.  Tom Barrett's a nice guy, but he's not a pushover.  And when this election is over,he is either going to be the governor or the mayor.

So, what is MMAC's defense?  That the $115,000 isn't really from MMAC, but from some of its member companies.  MMAC, President Tim Sheehy has been telling reporters, acts as a conduit for its members who want to give political money, and  in this case just passed it on to the RGA.  He won't say, however, who contributed the money.

There is a term for that.  It's money laundering.  And it is probably illegal.  If it's not, it's an unintended loophole in federal campaign finance laws.

The Republican Governors Assn., like the Democratic Governors Assn., is a federal political committee callled a 527.  Those committees can do political advocacy, like the ads the RGA is running.  But they are required to publicly disclose their donors.  That's how everyone found out MMAC had sent a $115,000 check.

Corporations can contribute to 527.   But their contributions must be disclosed.

Writing a corporate check to MMAC and having MMAC turn around and write a check for the same amount to the RGA or any other political committee is money laundering in the most basic sense of the term.

UPDATE: Ironically, there's a that Sheehy would be a good new president for WMC because it's gotten too partisan and he could right the ship.  Right. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

[Yes, I am a board member of a group that has a 527 committee, a 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organization and a state political action committee.  The issue advocacy group is not required to disclose its donors; the PAC and 527 are, and comply with the law.  What MMAC is doing is entirely different; it is shielding donors to a 527, despite the law that is intended to disclose them.]




July 27, 2010 - 7:02pm