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NRSC And WISGOP Team Up To Hand Out Free Slushies Highlighting Feingold’s Slush Fund

This is one part of the month-long campaign to highlight career politician Russ Feingold’s campaign finance hypocrisy. The organizations launched a billboard and direct mail campaign on August 3rd in Green Bay. Feingold has been embroiled in a campaign finance scandal after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uncovered that Feingold set up a scam political action committee to pay himself and his former staffers and gave little to campaigns.

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“Today families at Lambeau Field will have the opportunity to learn the cold hard facts about Russ Feingold’s campaign finance hypocrisy,” said NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek. “Feingold spent his entire career championing campaign finance reform and as soon as Wisconsin families rejected him, he started a slush fund for the sole purpose of padding his and his former staffers’ pocket books. Feingold abandoned his principles and Wisconsin families are going to abandon him.”

“Russ Feingold manipulated his PAC for personal gain, revealing his true nature only after he was rejected by voters,” said Chris Martin, Communications Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “This is yet another example of what happens when you spend too much time in Washington – you start to say one thing and do another.”

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Background On Feingold’s Progressives United Scandal

Feingold Used Money From Progressives United’s PAC And 501(c)(4) To Pay Himself And His Former Senate Staff

Progressives United PAC Paid Feingold $77,000 From Over Three Years. “Feingold and nine of his former campaign and U.S. Senate staffers drew salaries or consulting fees from the PAC, federal election records show. Five of them also spent time on the payroll of Progressives United Inc., the nonprofit. … Feingold received $77,000 from the two groups, one of which spent $42,609 to buy hundreds of copies of the ex-senator’s latest book, ‘While America Sleeps.’ A Feingold spokesman said the candidate received no royalties from book sales to his PAC under an agreement with his publisher.” (Daniel Bice, “Russ Feingold’s PAC Funded Fees, Salaries For Former Staffers, Himself,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/15/15)

  • The PAC and 501(c)(4) Were Used To Pay Other Feingold Staffers. “Mary Irvine — Feingold’s longtime chief of staff — was paid a total of $317,823 by the PAC and nonprofit from February 2011 until July 2013, when she left to take a job joining Feingold at the U.S. State Department. Irvine was listed on federal tax reports as vice president of Progressives United Inc.” (Daniel Bice, “Russ Feingold’s PAC Funded Fees, Salaries For Former Staffers, Himself,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/15/15)

  • Feingold’s PAC Was Used To Pay Members Of Current Campaign Staff. “Cole Leystra — Feingold’s campaign comptroller for seven years — was paid $291,112 by Feingold’s PAC and nonprofit since February 2011, the month after Feingold left public office. Nancy Ballweg — Feingold’s executive assistant at the Senate for 18 years — was paid $169,403 from his PAC since 2011. Her LinkedIn page says Ballweg also worked as a consultant to a Middleton dermatologist during much of this same period. Christopher Louderback — another veteran Feingold campaign staffer — pulled down $164,389 from the PAC and nonprofit, acting as the treasurer for both groups. Louderback now is listed as the assistant treasurer for Feingold’s U.S. Senate campaign fund, which was registered with the federal election officials last month.” (Daniel Bice, “Russ Feingold’s PAC Funded Fees, Salaries For Former Staffers, Himself,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/15/15)

  • Only Five Percent Of Contributions To The PAC Were Given To Other Candidates. “Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold — long a champion of campaign finance reform — founded a political action committee that has given a mere 5% of its income to federal candidates and political parties. Instead, nearly half of the $7.1 million that Progressives United PAC has spent since 2011 has gone to raising more money for itself, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org. The data also show the group has paid another sizable chunk of money on salaries or consulting fees for Feingold, his top aide and eight former staffers.” (Daniel Bice, “Russ Feingold’s PAC Funded Fees, Salaries For Former Staffers, Himself,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 6/15/15)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice Said The Scandal “Creates The Image He’s A Hypocrite.” THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL’s DANIEL BICE: “Well this is a case where he operated a Super PAC and most of the money ended up going to him, his staff, and to a number of vendors and clients. And so the potential is it creates the image that he’s a hypocrite, that he’s saying one thing but then you look at his fundraising doing another. But, what’s been equally interesting to me has been the response, or the lack of a response by the Feingold camp. Outside of pointing out that they’ve raised money indirectly, they’ve not really had much of a response. Their response has been to say nothing and to put out another fundraising letter.” (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “On Politics,” 6/18/15)

  • Bice Classified The Progressives United PAC As “A Landing Pad” For Feingold Staffers. THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL’s DANIEL BICE: “It’s funny, the stated purposed was to directly and indirectly help progressive candidates, liberal candidates, but only five percent of the money he had raised actually went to that, $350,000 went to that. Instead the money went to administration, fundraising, 50 percent of it went to fundraising, and salaries, salaries for former staffers. The PAC had, Feingold got paid for it, his Chief of Staff got paid out of it, and eight other former Senate and campaign staffers were paid out of that fund, so it gives this impression that it was basically a landing pad for them in-between two campaigns.” (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “On Politics,” 6/18/15)

WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes Called The Progressives United PAC A “Slush Fund.” WTMJ’S CHARLIE SYKES: “Loser, I agree with Collin, Russ Feingold. The self-righteous, sanctimonious father of campaign finance reform was exposed last week as both a phony and hypocrite. By turning his political action committee into a slush fund, he behaved exactly like the politicians he’s made a career of criticizing, and he did it when he thought no one was looking. Well, we’re looking now, Russ.” (WTMJ’s “Sunday Insight With Charlie Sykes,” 6/21/15)