Walker’s “Beer and Brat Summit” – just a state-sanctioned campaign event for Wisconsin Grocers

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’sTrig’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.

Roundy’s – CEO Robert Mariano (who lives in Illinois) alone has given $14,300 to mostly GOP politicians. Roundy’s executives add another $31,000 to the total – again, mostly GOP candidates.

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.


20 thoughts on “Walker’s “Beer and Brat Summit” – just a state-sanctioned campaign event for Wisconsin Grocers

  1. A good idea would to support your local mom and pop grocers not affiliated with these groups, and those in the milwaukee metro area to buy your organic and conventional foods at places like Outpost Foods, Fresh Market and Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee.

    • Yes, but even if you were to shop just at places like Outpost Foods, etc you would have to be sure to not buy products they were carry that are on this list, like Sprecher for example. Makes me really mad/sad to see such a decent brewer on the list. Oh well. I guess that is why New Glarus is absent from the list.

  2. I wonder what the relationship is between being intelligent enough to build a successful business and intelligent enough to know that voting for Tom Barrett would really Falk up the state. Kudos to originator of “Falk it up” and “couldn’t Barrett” slogan. Seriously, you have a governor who is meeting with the leaders of some of Wisconsin’s largest employers in the food industry and you don’t see that as a good thing. Better to do what Barrett does in Milwaukee (which on its GOOD days is nothing) and drive jobs out of the state. There is a brilliant thought.

    • Building a successful business and screwing workers and the middle class do not have to be one in the same – ever work for a retail grocer? The power groups like WGA wield in our system have blinded even rational people such as yourself – to the terrible toll Walker’s policies are and will have on Wisconsin. Who will be left to buy their groceries then? Oh wait, that’s right, they can just keep cutting wages to be more profitable.

  3. I’d be interested and curious to know what this article means by “primarily GOP candidates”. So many times, organizations literally cover their asses and hedge their bets and contribute to both sides. I find it hard to believe that an entity such as Miller-Coors hasn’t done just that. And I also believe that the progressive cause will get more respect when we stop coming off as sore losers and whiny bastards. There needs to be a lesson learned out of all of this. Until the facts are enough, (which may never be), playing the high stakes game of politics should be competitively played. They’ve made the rules, it’s time to get in the game.

    • Being “in the game” doesn’t mean accepting corruption and graft wherever it occurs – on both side. If you have any question as to what “most” means, follow the links to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign data – it’s all there. This is not being a “sore loser” or “whining” – this is continuing to expose the facts as they exist, as we must continue to speak out – more people are aware than one year ago, and that number will continue to grow.

  4. Do you really think that boycotting Wisconsin business is going to work ?. I am sure it will, the factory worker getting laid off will be the one to pay the price of such boycotts,not the fat cats. Your strategy is flawed and counterproductive to the cause of the average worker.

  5. Is that even legal to be accepting brats, beer and bread from these groups. Gosh a a run of the mill public employee can’t even take a cup of coffee from someone that they are doing business with on state time. And these guys can have a picnic with graft from Brandon and Co?

    • Cheesers is not a member of WGA – probably recommended by one of the other vendors, legislators, or the Walkers…the family that owns it has been very minor donors to GOP candidates – but not to the extent of the others.

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