Democratic Party of Wisconsin and their deep ties to Big Oil

October 20, 2019 by Barbara With

Corporate Fascism: When corporations collude with politicians to write and pass laws to benefit the corporations at the expense of the people, land, water, natural resources, communities, civil and human rights, and democratic process.

On Tuesday, October 22, a public hearing will be held in Madison for SB386, the Republican Anti-Protestor Bill that five Wisconsin Democrats have signed onto as co-sponsors.

Bewley, Schachtner, Sinicki, Vruwink and Fields, all co-sponsoring corporate written legislation to criminal protesting and compensate foreign oil companies for their use of public law enforcement for making illegal arrests.

Introduced by Republican and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, SB386 is based on Trump Administration oil policies, and would, among other things, make Enbridge and other foreign oil corporations “Wisconsin utilities.” This would give them the power to seize private land under new Wisconsin eminent domain laws and allow the corporations to use local public law enforcement to arrest protesters on or near pipeline easements or leased land, even if the person is the owner of the land.

Foxconn pipeline that takes seven million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily for their imaginary factory. Photo: Allen Richard

Water pipelines will also be elevated to this protected status, which will effectively benefit Foxconn. The Taiwanese corporation was the recipient of beneficial legislation that was passed to accommodate them, including exemptions from paying taxes, smog control regulations and water quality protections for wetlands and Lake Michigan, and allowing Foxconn to use eminent domain to force home owners to sell their homes. The bill passed with the support of Democratic legislators Rep. Peter Barca, Cory Mason and Tod Ohnstad.

The Center for Media and Democracy uncovered the author of SB386 as Marcus Bentley, president of Bentley Public Affairs (BPA), on behalf of the American Petroleum Institution, which represents most all oil corporations around the world, including Enbridge.

After constituents from the Democrats’ districts expressed their opposition to this corporate bill, questions were raised as to why Bewley and other Democrats would sign on to support this right-wing, unconstitutional corporate legislation. Despite false claims that workers are at risk, the trail actually leads back to Wisconsin Democrats’ deep ties to Big Oil via labor unions.

Nation Consulting

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is a client of Nation Consulting. Nation Consulting Partner Sachin Chheda is the Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County and a strategic communications advisor to the Wisconsin AFL-CIO (Sinicki and Fields represent Milwaukee). Jason Rae is also a partner at Nations, as well as serving as the secretary of the Democratic National Committee.

Thad Nation, founder of the firm, was also a generous contributor to right-wing organizations. According to The Progressive Midwesterner, Nation was listed in a 2012 IRS 990 filing as the principal officer of Coalition for the New Economy (CftNE):

 CftNE has also given money to at least several right-wing political groups that have actively opposed Democratic and liberal political candidates, have actively supported Republican and conservative political candidates, and/or have advocated for far-right policies.

That’s a total of $69,740 that Thad Nation has, through CftNE, provided to right-wing organizations that have supported Republicans like Scott Walker.

Nation Consulting also represents Michels Corporation, a Wisconsin company who works with, among other pipeline builders, Enbridge. Last year, Michels Corporation was sued by landowners in Michigan for breaking agreements to protect and restore properties affected by the NEXUS pipeline project there. This year, Enbridge is being sued by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for removal of damaged pipelines and operating without a permit on reservation land.

LiUNA and Michels Pipelines

Michels Pipelines is also a member of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). LiUNA is pushing SC386 and was the same union that published propaganda about violence on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to justify the illegal arrests of hundreds of peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock. LiUNA members include most of the major oil pipeline companies in the country.

Below is a press release, headed by LiUNA, asking for support for SB386 and again making exaggerated claims about worker safety and how much damage water protecters have done to pipelines.

Crocodile Tears

Janet Bewley’s diversionary tactics when confronted by her constituents beg the question, what back room deals are she and other Democrats engaged in? They know the bill will pass; the Republicans have the majority in both chambers. Their co-sponsorship, however, will split the Democrats and make it more difficult for Gov. Evers to veto the bill, as then-Gov. Mark Dayton did with Minnesota’s version. Bewley’s name will also bring some much needed public relations for Enbridge, facing a law suit to shut down their line in Bewley’s district.

Janet Bewley fielding questions from concerned constituents in Park Falls, WI, October 15, 2019.

Last year in Michigan, then-Gov. Synder was revealed to be colluding with Enbridge about energy policies around the gravely compromised Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac:

David Holtz, communications coordinator for Oil and Water Don’t Mix, a coalition of groups opposed to the pipeline, said the coordination of the press release is a “smoking gun” that shows Snyder’s administration partnered with Enbridge in deciding Line 5’s fate.

“Citizens are given a phony process …controlled by the oil industry along with a meaningless advisory board that is simply a distraction from what is going on behind the scenes,” he said.

Bewley, Sinicki, Fields, Vrumink, and Schachtner owe it to all their constituents, not just the labor unions, to tell the truth about why they are supporting this corporate Republican legislation that turns even more power over to corporate control. Are they engaged in back-room deals, like Gov. Synder was?

After aligning themselves to Trump policies, their weak argument for worker protections based on LiUNA propaganda and their refusal to call out the unconstitutional activities that the bill’s authors perpetrated in North Dakota are causing them to lose core supporters in their districts. They are exposing themselves to be in the pocket of Big Oil, which makes them corporate fascists, just like their Republican friends on the other side of the aisle.

The only action that will prove otherwise is withdrawing their support of the bill and denouncing the law breakers.

With Republicans and Big Oil on their side, however, they no longer need the support of the people. Big oil owns them now.



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