The campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has found a fundraising pitchman in Fox News contributor Dick Morris. Morris has recently appeared on Fox News, where he's praised Walker's “pivotal” actions as governor and urged viewers to “do everything they can to support Scott Walker.”
The fundraising isn't a one-way street. The Walker campaign has rented Morris' email list three times for donation solicitations and “paid for” a blog post embedding video of Morris urging people to donate. A conservative political action committee supporting Walker also rented Morris' list for a donation solicitation.
In 2011, Morris's firm received $20,000 from The Presidential Coalition LLC, an affiliate of Citizens United, for “list usage.” During that period, Morris sent out several emails urging readers to support Wisconsin Republicans facing recall elections at the time by donating to the group.
Fox News has routinely allowed Morris to analyze and promote political candidates and causes which pay him. Indeed, Fox News did not disclose Morris' financial ties to Walker during his appearances.
Email List Rentals And Donation Solicitations
On May 8 and May 15, the Walker campaign rented Morris' list for contribution solicitations. The email contained the introduction, “Please find a special message from our paid sponsor, Gov. Scott Walker. Sponsorships like this help to allow us to continue to send you Dick's commentary free of charge. We appreciate your support. DickMorris.com.”
On May 30, the Walker campaign rented the list again, this time with a personal introduction by Morris. Morris wrote: “Donate to his campaign and send a message to Barack Obama and his friends by making sure we keep Scott Walker in Wisconsin!”
On May 24, Conservative StrikeForce PAC rented Morris' list asking for contributions to help Walker. The PAC states that it “was created in 2009 by a small group of devoted conservatives who wanted a way to effectively support candidates by motivating like-minded voters at the grassroots level.”
The Walker campaign “paid for” a May 31 DickMorris.com post by Morris. Morris praised Walker as a “courageous governor” and added, “Please help him win!” ; “we need to back Scott Walker” ; “We must re-elect Scott Walker” ; “It is the second most important election of the year” ; “Not only if you live in Wisconsin. But if you care and you live in the United States of America!” The post contained three donation links.
The post included video of him praising Walker and asking people to “please give us money. We'll pass it on to Walker because we have got to help him turn back this initiative.” Morris' post and video was also emailed to his DickMorris.com list, which has been heavily promoted on Fox News.
An email to the Walker campaign asking how much they were paying for the promotional material was not returned.
Fox News Promotions
During the May 24 edition of On the Record, Morris touted the importance of the race and praised Walker's “pivotal” actions as governor:
MORRIS: When you look at the fact that state and local governments spend huge amounts of their budget, probably a third of it, on education and that that is tightly controlled by the unions, and this would free that control, this is absolutely pivotal. We have tried everything in education reform -- dumping in more money, higher standards, all kinds of stuff. The only thing that really works is freeing them of union control and giving people a choice of where to send their children. And that's what is at stake right now.
Host Greta Van Susteren did not disclose Morris' financial ties.
As Media Matters noted, Morris has also been a paid proponent of the school choice movement -- a fact also left undisclosed on Fox.
During the May 26 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, Morris told viewers that “it's terribly important that everybody do everything they can to support Scott Walker.” Fox News did not disclose Morris' financial connections to Walker.
During the recall campaign, Walker has pitched his message on conservative media outlets like Fox News.
Morris' 2011 Payments While Supporting WI Republicans
According to IRS data, The Presidential Coalition LLC, an affiliate of Citizens United, paid Morris' firm Triangulation Strategies $20,000 for “list usage” on August 15, 2011. Between June 14 and July 25, Morris sent three emails about the Wisconsin Senate recall elections. A June 14 email praised “the reforms Governor Scott Walker pushed through in Wisconsin.” The emails asked readers to donate to The Presidential Coalition. One email appeal ended:
Please, please, please, please send us money to save these reforms. With them we can educate our children and destroy the financial base of the left wing of the Democratic Party. But if the reforms fail, the movement will crash and burn and we will never have another opportunity like this again. In Wisconsin or anyplace else!
The Presidential Coalition's IRS form did not specify if the list usage was directly for the Wisconsin emails, but a search of emails sent by Morris to a Media Matters address did not find any other relevant results for “the presidential coalition.”