Sen. Feingold’s Legalized Slush Fund?

The Ron Johnson campaign today released the second digital ad this week hitting Senator Feingold’s scandal-ridden shadow campaign at Progressives United.

The latest ad, “Senator Feingold’s Slush Fund” highlights the fact that Senator Feingold raised more than $7 million under false pretenses, with the PAC operating as a slush fund to further his own political career. Only five percent of money raised went to support candidates and causes, while as a local newscaster put it, “nearly half of the $7 million that Progressives United PAC has spent has gone to raising more money for…itself.”

Campaign finance expert Paul Jossey is quoted in the ad saying he thought Progressives United was “nothing more than a legalized slush fund.”

Monday, the Johnson campaign released “Senator Feingold’s 5 Percent.” More ads will be released throughout the rest of the week.
Key Facts:

  • 1990s and 2000s: Senator Feingold’s legislative proposals include requiring that Senate candidates raise more than half their money from their home states, and restricting political action committees.
  • June 15, 2015: Progressives United, the political action committee Senator Feingold founded after previously being against PACs, is revealed to have given only 5 percent of the money it raised to candidates and causes – with the rest going to line Feingold’s pockets, pay his future campaign staff, and more fundraising to
    build a national donor apparatus.
  • Aug. 13, 2015: Confronted with his new national fundraising apparatus, Senator Feingold announced he will no longer honor his promise saying “there is no hypocrisy.” He blames the Citizens United ruling, even though he had previously renewed the pledge in 2010, after Citizens United.
  • On Aug. 30, 2016, the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a legal complaint saying Feingold has violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits various types of political activity by members of the executive branch, while he was at the State Department. The questions about potential violations of the Hatch Act were first raised by Wisconsin Watchdog, following media reports that Feingold had talked with Sen. Jon Tester – chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – about running for U.S. Senate while he was still at the State Department, and revelations that Progressives United had served as his shadow campaign during that time.
  • On October 14, 2016, it was reported that Senator Feingold’s Progressives United for Wisconsin PAC, created to help with Wisconsin elections, gave more of its money to Feingold’s original Progressives United — which has been termed a “shadow campaign” and “legalized slush fund” — than Wisconsin candidates.