When Scott Walker released the details of his so-called “Beer and Brat Summit” on Monday, the list of participating vendors looked more like a who’s who of GOP campaign contributors than local food producers. There are significant donors receiving a very high visibility thank you from Scott Walker today – raising questions as to whether this is just a covert campaign event in a contentious election year.
Brats supplied by Trig’s – Trig’s is a Northern Wisconsin grocer whose family ownership has contributed over $12,000 to the Walker campaign, $108,000 to GOP campaigns. The family and business are active members of the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association (WGA).
Sprecher Root Beer and Beers (with the special commemorative label) – Sprecher has been very supportive of GOP activity and events in the Milwaukee area, and has become more involved with the emerging prominence of Americans for Prosperity.
Johnsonville Brats - Owners from the Stayer family have given over $25,000 to the Walker Campaign, and over $164,000 to primarily GOP campaigns.
Titletown Brewing Co. - Owner and President Brent Weycker ran as a Republican for the 90th Assembly District in 2000 and lost. Weycker is a consistent GOP supporter in the Fox Valley.
Usinger’s Sausage - Fred Usinger has donated thousands of dollars to GOP interests through the “American Meat Institute PAC”, and individual donations in Wisconsin for both GOP and corporate Democratic politicians.
Miller Coors - Executives at Miller Coors have given over $103,000 in contributions to mostly GOP candidates in individual contributions, including thousands of dollars to the Walker campaign.
Sendik’s - Grocery stores in the affluent areas of Milwaukee, owned by the Balistrieri Family. The family alone has given over $23,000, most of it to the Walker campaign.
Coca Cola - The Coca Cola PAC is called the “Coca Cola Employee Non-Partisan” PAC. It has given over $22,000, all to GOP politicians. So much for non-partisan.
Kwik Trip - Kwik Trip executives have given over $214,000 to primarily GOP candidates, and reports as a “Natural Resources” interest company.
Most of the participating companies have something in common. They are members of the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association, or have participated in WGA vendor fairs, according to Brandon Scholz, President of the WGA. Scholz confirms that WGA coordinated the event with the governor’s staff and “in full accordance with state law.”
In fact, Pan-o-Gold Baking, Lipari Distribution, and Russ Davis Wholesale are also WGA members. Russ Davis Wholesale received the 2011 WGA “Vendor of the Year” award, after being nominated by Trig’s Market.
WGA PAC has given over $48,000 in campaign contributions, again, mostly to GOP candidates, including over $6,000 to the Waker Campaign. The WGA Board will have a large presence at Walker’s “Beer and Brat Summit.” While these executives will not be in attendance, it will not be lost on GOP Legislators and Scott Walker who these people are, and what their organization’s policy priorities are going into the Fall Elections:
Don Symonds – Lipari
Kevin Morris – Coca Cola
Paul Lucas – Miller Coors
Steve Loehr – Kwik Trip
Nick Balistreri – Sendik’s
William Dowling – Roundy’s
Despite Scott Walker’s calls to “work together”, it is abundantly clear that the Walker Administration is incapable of holding a simple cookout without turning it into a campaign event. This time, it’s on state property, state time, as a sanctioned state function.
Scott Walker – still campaigning on the taxpayer dime – this time, in broad daylight.