Wisconsin Working Families Party is not a real party, literally

By Chris Johnson, KINGFISHmke & Robert Miranda, Wisconsin Spanish Journal

January 26, 2016

A recently obtained Campaign Registration Statement from the Milwaukee County Election Commission reveals that the Wisconsin Working Families Party (WWFP) is NOT a political party; it is categorized as an “Independent Expenditure Committee,” which is very similar to a Political Action Committee (PAC).

On the Campaign Registration Statement, there are several categories identifying what type of committee an organization is, one of which is “Political Party,” WWFP did not choose this categorization, it chose Independent Expenditure Committee. On many occasions, WWFP has identified itself as a “political organization”; however, for donors and contributors’ clarification, its type of political organization should be made clear.

The Campaign Registration Statement is dated January 20, 2016, but the announcement made in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS) article that the Working Families Party was launching a chapter in Wisconsin was made in July of 2015.

Later that month, MJS announced, in another article that Milwaukee County Sup. Marina Dimitrijevic was being named state director of the newly launched “party.” 

In August 2015 on Citizens Action of Wisconsin’s “The Battleground Wisconsin” podcast, Sup. Dimitrijevic declared that the party was going to use “fusion voting,” which is a political strategy in which the same candidate may be nominated by two or more different parties, with the parties listed separately on the ballot, but combining their votes to determine the overall tally for the candidate they share. This proved to be untrue as Wisconsin election law does not allow candidates to be listed on the ballot more than once for one office. 

Since then, there have been several press releases and announcements regarding radio interviews on Wisconsin Public Radio, TV appearances on UPFRONT with Mike Gousha, and most recently the announcement of the 2016 WWFP candidates, including Milwaukee County Executive candidate Rep. Chris Larson. At no time during any of these media appearances did Sup. Marina Dimitrijevic make it clear that WiWFP was in fact an Independent Expenditure Committee, let alone not registered yet with any official government agency.

There also was no mention from the WWFP about the Working Families Party endorsement of Bernie Sanders for U.S. President.

So why is it that the WWFP just filed their campaign registration form on January 20th of 2016? They have been active since at least July of 2015.

This past year, after the announcement that WWFP will be active in Wisconsin to take on Republicans and corporate Democrats, WWFP actively recruited members and collected membership dues. It’s not totally clear if WWFP members are aware that this party is NOT a party, but in fact an Independent Expenditure Committee.

According to the State of Wisconsin Governmental Accounting Board (GAB), the official government board for elections, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying, WWFP did not register with them at all, and the Milwaukee County Election Commission did not receive their registration until last week.

There have been some changes in Wisconsin campaign finance laws, however, that do not justify not registering with any official government agency or filing any campaign finance reports. According to the GAB, a January Continuing Report 2016 should have been filed with either Milwaukee County or the GAB at the very minimum for activities between July and December of 2015.

At this point, we do not really know who the WWFP are, where their contributions come from, how they spend those contributions, or with whom they spend those contributions with.

WWFP Not a Political Party

A political party is defined as an organized group of people, with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions, that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office to control the operations of government and staffing government with loyal party members. Do we really know what WWFP’s true political aims and opinions are?

We are just finding out that WWFP is not a political party, and that they have not filed any campaign finance reports. We do not know who is contributing to them or who they are spending those contributions with. Is this their definition of transparent governing?

KINGFISHmke has on several occasions attempted to find out more about WWFP. Sup. Marina Dimitrijevic did respond initially months ago, inviting KINGFISHmke to a meeting. After KINGFISHmke accepted the invitation to meet with her and her staff, all communications with WWFP since have met with negative results.

When you really think about it, who knows what else we don’t know?

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on January 27, 2016

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