A video report published yesterday by a conservative group called Project Veritas suggests Wisconsin Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, wanted to create an illegal super PAC to go after his Democratic challenger.
During the course of a barroom conservation that was secretly recorded last month, Ellis name drops some of the people he expects to give $50,000 to his PAC, including "Stu" and Henry Mills.
"I have a $400,000 committee and [Republican fundraiser] Judi Rhodes will -- I'm raising the money, she will manufacture the crap," Ellis said. "I want Judi, somebody else, to attack."
But the big problem with Ellis's plan is that Wisconsin law makes it a felony offense to coordinate a campaign with the activities of a organization like the one he had in mind. And possible illegality aside, it's also a terrible look for Ellis, a longtime advocate for campaign finance reform, to be involved in a scheme of that sort.
We contacted the campaign of Stewart Mills, the Republican frontrunner to challenge Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan in Minnesota's 8th congressional district later this year, to get his response to the Project Veritas report. (Stewart Mills is vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, which has headquarters both in Brainerd and in Appleton, Wisconsin.)
Not only does Mills deny involvement, but he says the "Stu" Ellis refers to in the secret recording isn't even him.
The Mills campaign released the following statement to City Pages on behalf of Stewart Mills:
"Senator Ellis's comments referred to my father Stew Mills, Jr. and my uncle Hank Mills. I am not involved, have not been involved, and will not be involved in any way in Senator Ellis's 2014 reelection. Furthermore, Senator Ellis's implication regarding my family's involvement is presumptuous."Asked about the explosive secret recording by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ellis said he didn't understand at the time that his involvement in an organization of that sort would be illegal. He says he scrapped the idea as soon as he realized the super PAC he had in mind would involve unlawful campaign coordination.
Click to page two to watch the Project Veritas report.