Senator Feingold’s ‘Legalized Slush Fund,’ Progressives United, Served As Shadow Campaign While At State Department, Resulting In Clintonesque Email Scandal
The Ron Johnson campaign today released a digital ad highlighting the similarities between Senator Feingold and Hillary Clinton’s State Department email scandals, the latest in a series of digital ads on the ways Feingold used his “legalized slush fund” Progressives United to further his political ambitions.
The ad, “Trustworthy?” features news coverage of both the Clinton and Feingold email scandals, reminding voters of the similarities between the two and making clear that the reason Senator Feingold thinks Hillary Clinton is “reliable and trustworthy” is that they both engage in the same untrustworthy behavior.
“Senator Feingold thinks Hillary Clinton is reliable and trustworthy because he sees no problem with engaging in the same kind of dishonest and unethical behavior she does – conducting political activity while working for taxpayers at the State Department, then covering it up,” Ron Johnson campaign manager Betsy Ankney said. “After 34 years as a career politician, Senator Feingold has sold out his principles and says one thing and does another on every issue because he is desperate to get back to Washington.”
This is the fourth in a series of ads this week from the Johnson campaign targeting specific aspects of Senator Feingold’s legalized slush fund, Progressives United, which operated as a shadow campaign, building campaign infrastructure and fundraising lists, while Senator Feingold was a State Department employee.
- 1990s and 2000s: Senator Feingold’s legislative proposals include requiring that Senate candidates raise more than half their money from their home states, and restricting political action committees.
- June 15, 2015: Progressives United, the political action committee Senator Feingold founded after previously being against PACs, is revealed to have given only 5 percent of the money it raised to candidates and causes – with the rest going to line Feingold’s pockets, pay his future campaign staff, and more fundraising to
build a national donor apparatus.
- Aug. 13, 2015: Confronted with his new national fundraising apparatus, Senator Feingold announced he will no longer honor his promise saying “there is no hypocrisy.” He blames the Citizens United ruling, even though he had previously renewed the pledge in 2010, after Citizens United.
- On Aug. 30, 2016, the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a legal complaint saying Feingold has violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits various types of political activity by members of the executive branch, while he was at the State Department. The questions about potential violations of the Hatch Act were first raised by Wisconsin Watchdog, following media reports that Feingold had talked with Sen. Jon Tester – chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – about running for U.S. Senate while he was still at the State Department, and revelations that Progressives United had served as his shadow campaign during that time.
- Senator Feingold’s campaign purchased Progressives United fundraising lists, and has used them to raise a$11 million from outside Wisconsin compared to less than $3 million from Wisconsin, according to a report.
- Senator Feingold has refused to call on the State Department to release his emails and other public documents during his time there, as required by federal law.