In September right wing blogger and political operative Brian Fraley announced that he was taking a new job as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Leadership (WIL). This organization is supposed to be “independent” complete with a 501c4 non-profit tax status. At the time Fraley described on his Daily Takes blog that the new organization was “nonprofit, nonpartisan and issue-focused.”
Oh really? If WIL is actually “nonpartisan and issue focused”, then why did Brian Fraley, forward Rose Fernandez announcement that she was running for Department of Public Instruction? According to a recent report by the Capital Times, he did not just forward that announcement but also included a very supportive note about the candidate. According to the report, this happened sometime in December. The obvious question here is should the head of an “independent” 501c4 advocacy organization be advancing a candidate’s campaign in this manner? Exactly what contact has Rose Fernandez or her representatives had with WIL Fraley and when did they have it?
On January 1, the WIL blog notes that Fraley is taking leave from his position there until April 15, which is obviously after the general election for Department of Public Instruction. Could the executive director of this “independent” 501c4 advocacy organization actually be taking leave to work for the Fernandez Campaign? Perhaps someone should ask Fraley…perhaps they should ask Fernandez. Even if he is not going to work for Fernandez directly, is he going to work for someone else on her behalf? Is this appropriate? Even if WIL and Fraley had any credibility about being “independent” in the first place, how could anyone take them seriously now?
At this point we don’t know if Brian Fraley is taking leave from WIL to work for the Fernandez Campaign, but his pattern of behavior is interesting. When he took the job at WIL he posted on his Daily Takes blog exactly why it had gone on hiatus. At that time he explained, “Daily Takes doesn’t help pay my mortgage. My real jobs do.” Low-and-behold, Fraley just announced on his blog today that it is once again going on “hiatus”! If he is being true to form, then it must be because of one of his “real jobs.” We know that his “real job” at WIL can’t be to blame this time, so what/who is the culprit now?
Brian Fraley has openly commented on his work for the virtual schools lobby and with Rose Fernandez in particular. Whether or not he eventually goes to work for her actual campaign, his actions supporting her recently should make things crystal clear. Any claim from Fraley or WIL about being “independent” are completely virtual and have no basis in reality.
UPDATE: Can someone say BINGO?
The part that is most problematic to me is that Fraley's email (as reported by the Capital Times) includes the following: "...she is worthy of your support." Independent groups and their agents cant "support" or "oppose" candidates. Based on today's announcement, it looks like he wont just be "supporting" the Fernandez Campaign now, but actually running it.