WisDems Call on Scott Walker Administration to Revoke Grant to Tea Party Group Involved in $500,000 Pay-to-Play Scandal

Sep 03, 2013

New Documents Reveal Politically-Connected Group Falsified Its Federal Tax Status

Wisconsin Democrats today called on the Scott Walker administration to revoke a $500,000 grant made to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin after new documents revealed the Tea Party group falsified its federal tax status.

United Sportsmen claimed in its application to the state and at a hearing before the Joint Finance Committee that they had a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation.

After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week reported that neither state nor federal registries had record of United Sportsmen’s nonprofit status, the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that the group falsified its nonprofit status, but will still receive the controversial grant – to include $50,000 paid in advance.

It had been previously reported that United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, headed by Scott Suder’s former chief of staff, Luke Hilgemann, who in recent years ran Wisconsin’s chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, was the lone applicant and ultimate recipient of the $500,000 grant inserted by Suder into the state budget for the purpose of promoting hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin.

United Sportsmen of Wisconsin has no record of providing outdoor training in Wisconsin or anywhere else; however, they do have history of involvement in Wisconsin politics in recent years.

During the 2011 senate recalls, United Sportsmen faced backlash for their involvement in a series of misleading “Absentee Ballot Application” mailers and in 2012 they endorsed Scott Walker in the recall election, stating that, “The second amendment took on a new meaning in Wisconsin under Governor Scott Walker.”

“A Tea Party group with close ties to the Scott Walker administration has falsified its federal tax status in receiving $500,000 in taxpayer funds, and instead of losing their grant, they’re getting rewarded with money up front,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. “Can you imagine if a poor person falsified their information so that Scott Walker couldn’t kick them off BadgerCare? I can assure you they wouldn’t be getting benefits paid in advance. This deal reeks of the worst kind of corruption and cronyism. Scott Walker must immediately call for the revocation of the grant, and United Sportsmen of Wisconsin should be banned from seeking state funds in the future.”