Today is the big day for Wisconsin's budget battle. The lines were drawn weeks ago between the GOP-contolled State houses and the union-supported Democrats when 14 Dems left the state to prevent a vote on the controversial plan to eliminate some of the collective bargaining for many public employees. In the time since the exodus much has been made about the financial support received by Gov. Walker from conservative donors like the billionaire Koch brothers.
Today we learned that unions financial support of Democrats in Wisconsin, especially those currently in hiding is equally staggering. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign nearly 20% of recent campaign funds donated (2007-present) to the 14 Senate Democrats who are holding out in Illinois came from union employees. And one member of the MIA 14 is the recipient of the lion's share of that windfall. Meet Spencer Coggs:
According to the Journal-Sentinel of Milwaukee (Milwaukee is in the district Coggs represents), approximately two-thirds of the campaign funds donated to Mr. Coggs came from the public sector. That information should not surprise anyone when you review the state Senator's bio as presented by the local newspaper:
Before being elected to the Legislature nearly three decades ago, Coggs was a city inspector and the treasurer of his AFSCME local. He remains a member of the union because he is technically on leave from his municipal job, and he is active with two other unions.
It has been almost 30 years since Coggs worked in the unionized position as a city inspector, and he is still allowed to call himself a member of that union because he is on a "leave of absence?" Oddly enough, Mr. Coggs' online bio does not mention his union membership, in fact this is all it says:
5th session in Senate (elected to Senate in November 2003 recall election, reelected 2004) (also served 11 sessions in Assembly 1983-2003). Born 8/6/49; married; B.S. UW-Milwaukee 1976; former City of Milwaukee health officer.
The donations from unions to Democrats and their causes was not lost of the GOP leadership in Wisconsin. Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald claims that the Wisconsin Education Association Council spent almost $1.6 million supporting candidates in four different state Senate races. Additionally, SEIU and AFSCME are alleged to have pumped over $1.3 million into Wisconsin campaigns since 2008.