Friday, March 30, 2012

Does Latest Block News Give Them Pause?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice is reporting that the Feds have opened an investigation into Wisconsin Republican operative Mark Block. Reportedly they are interested in Block organizations like Wisconsin Prosperity Network and Prosperity USA. It appears that the investigation is related to the use of those organizations finances and the start of the Herman Cain comedy campaign for president.

As the Bice column and many other people have noted, Block has a history of crossing a few lines. The most cited example is when he served as campaign manager for former-Supreme Court Justice Jon Wilcox in 1997. Regulators accused him of election-law violations and he settled with them by agreeing to a 3 year ban from Wisconsin politics and a $15,000 fine. Now we have this newly reported investigation and I have to wonder what Block-connected Republican front groups, operatives and donors are thinking?

For example our fragile friends at the MacIver Institute have been deeply involved with Mark Block since before they were even fully established as an official right wing spin machine. Based on MacIver's IRS filings Block served on their board as "treasurer" in at least 2008 and 2009. He was still listed on their website as being a board member as recently as November 2010. Heck, the organization is even named after Republican operative John MacIver, someone that a Journal Sentinel profile described as Block's mentor.

One of the Block organizations that is reportedly part of the federal inquiry is the Wisconsin Prosperity Network (WPN). Do you remember the first big story detailing that effort? It was a Mark Pitsch 2009 story in the Wisconsin State Journal. It detailed the right wing plans of creating 14 new Wisconsin front groups as part of the newly proposed Prosperity Network. The story listed the MacIver Institute as the very first entity to be formed as part of the scheme.

As of at least February 2011, MacIver was still listed on the Wisconsin Prosperity Network website as a "networked organization". At that time the WPN website invited people to become a member and "prosperity warrior" by giving $500 in annual dues. The "benefits" of giving to WPN included the following:

Prosperity Warrior benefits include membership in Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin Chapter (AFPWI) and subscriptions to The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, First Freedoms Foundation, and American Majority Wisconsin Chapter. Benefits also include complementary admission to WPN regional policy briefings, the WPN annual state briefing, Americans for Prosperity (WI) Defending the American Dream Summit, Tailgate for Taxpayers, annual MacIver Institute Gala Banquet, and a Wisconsin Prosperity Network lapel pin.
I am writing about this as yet another reminder of just how deeply Mark Block has been involved with the extremist right wing infrastructure currently ruining running Wisconsin. And the latest news of a possible federal investigation into Block's various ventures makes me wonder if it gives any of them even a moment of pause?

Fun Fact: This didn't seem to fit anywhere in the actual blog posting, but I noticed that Block's Wisconsin Prosperity Network had a post office box at the same New Berlin post office (53151) that served the MacIver Institute in at least 2008. I'm curious what other right wing Republican front groups have been based in that post office and why it is so popular with them?

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