Matea Gold for WaPo:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a lot of wealthy targets to hit in Palm Beach, Fla., on an April afternoon in 2011. There was a possible call with casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson. There was a private meeting with a clutch of high-level donors at the home of oil executive William “Lee” Hanley and his wife, Alice. And there was a car ride with two top advisers to hedge fund executive Paul Singer.
“Billionaire who writes large checks,” a fundraising consultant bluntly reminded Walker (R) in a briefing memo on Singer, adding: “You would like Paul Singer to donate $1m and help get the word out to his peers.”
Such heavy-handed attempts to extract huge contributions dominate email exchanges between Walker and his aides that were released in a trove of state investigative documents leaked to the Guardian last week. The documents, produced as part of a now-halted “John Doe” probe into suspected illegal campaign coordination, reveal in stark terms how the chase for big money by politicians has largely become a frantic pursuit of billionaires and corporate executives.
“Take Koch’s [sic] money,” Kate Doner, Walker’s fundraising consultant, urged him in September 2011. “Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now. Corporations. Go heavy after them to give . . . Create a list of legislation that passed and benefits whom.”
The emails were written in 2011 and 2012 when Walker was raising funds to combat the attempted recall of a group of Republican state senators and then the governor himself. The documents expose how he played a leading role in securing big checks, making personal pleas to rich conservatives across the country.