Press Releases

Election-denying donors pour millions into key Wisconsin supreme court race [The Guardian]

Mar 14, 2023

Dan Kelly has admitted to having close ties to corporate special interests, and attempted to help overturn the 2020 election results. Now he’s running for Wisconsin Supreme Court and, unsurprisingly, he’s being supported by election-denying billionaires and outside groups.

Just last week, End Citizens United // Let America Vote endorsed Judge Janet Protasiewicz, because unlike her opponent, she is a fair and impartial jurist who will always put the rights of the people ahead of an extremist agenda.

The Guardian: Election-denying donors pour millions into key Wisconsin supreme court race

Alice Herman

Key Points:

  • More than $3.9m has poured into the Wisconsin supreme court election from individuals and groups involved with promoting election disinformation and attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to an analysis of campaign spending by the Guardian.

  • At stake in the Wisconsin supreme court race are redistricting, abortion rights, and voting rights and elections policy.

  • Among the election-denying funders behind Kelly’s run are anti-abortion thinktanks and Super Pacs, conservative billionaires and a constellation of groups funded by the Wisconsin shipping supply tycoon Richard Uihlein.

  • Meanwhile, prominent election denier Charlie Kirk of the rightwing Turning Point USA has voiced support for Kelly’s campaign.

  • The funding comes after prominent election deniers lost their efforts in the 2022 midterms to oversee elections in swing states including Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

  • “I don’t think the insurrectionists have given up,” [Jeremi] Suri said. “They’re still looking for candidates, and they’re particularly interested in someone like Kelly, who, if he can get on the supreme court, will have a 10-year term and will be pretty much unaccountable.”

  • [Richard] Uihlein has gained notoriety for his financial support of groups involved with the 6 January 2021 Capitol riot and thinktanks that stoked unfounded fears of election fraud during and following the 2020 election – including the Conservative Partnership Institute and the Federalist Society.

  • Campaign finance reports show the group Fair Courts America, Inc, which is largely bankrolled by Uihlein, spent at least $1.5m in independent expenditures on pro-Kelly television ads before the 21 February primary.

  • Uihlein’s influence in the Wisconsin supreme court race extends beyond Fair Courts America. Restoration Pac, a funding vehicle that Uihlein has poured millions into, finances other pro-Kelly groups, including Women Speak Out Pac.

  • American Principles Project Pac, which has reported contributing more than $66,000 on pro-Kelly digital advertising before the primary, is also funded by Restoration Pac.

  • The Florida private equity billionaire John Childs contributed at least $800,000 to the [Restoration] Pac in 2022, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Childs has also contributed to America First Action, the Super Pac that supported Trump’s 2020 run for office.

  • The Texas billionaire Brett Hendrickson, who has contributed to the campaigns of the Missouri congressman Eric Burlison, Senator Ted Budd of North Carolina and the Illinois congresswoman Mary Miller, has also contributed to Restoration Pac. Burlison, Budd and Miller have all aligned themselves with Trump in questioning the results of the 2020 election.

  • According to campaign finance filings, the Federalist Society chairman, Leonard Leo, contributed $20,000 to Kelly’s campaign – the maximum amount an individual donor can contribute to a supreme court campaign in Wisconsin.

  • Also donating the maximum $20,000 to Kelly’s campaign was Diane Hendricks, chairwoman of the multibillion-dollar building company ABC Supply.

  • The deluge of cash from the same groups that financially supported election denialism and Trump’s failed bid to overturn the 2020 election also played an outsize role during the 2022 elections.

  • A bombshell report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel raised questions about Kelly’s own participation in 2020 attempts to overturn the presidential election. Kelly, the report found, had provided special counsel to the Republican party, advising on the subject of fake electors.

  • The anti-abortion groups and funders behind Kelly’s campaign have also taken part in efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results – highlighting the common cause rightwing Christian activists have found with election deniers.

  • On a 21 February episode of the Charlie Kirk Show, Julaine Appling – president of the Christian, anti-abortion Wisconsin Family Council – endorsed Kelly while invoking fears of electoral fraud. Wisconsin Family Action, Inc, which Appling also heads, has reported about $6,000 in independent expenditures to support Kelly’s election.

  • [Charlie] ]Kirk, who founded Turning Point USA and played a prominent role in mobilizing protestors for rallies that preceded the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, concurred. “Dan Kelly is the best of all of them.”