FACT CHECK: Scott Walker’s Pay-To-Play Politics On The Northern Wisconsin Mine

Oct 09, 2014

SCOTT WALKER STATEMENT: Scott Walker just tried to downplay his connection to GTAC and their efforts to mine iron in Northern Wisconsin.   


An April court finding revealed the largest pay-to-play scheme in Wisconsin state history, as Gogebic Taconite (GTac) donated $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth for Scott Walker in exchange for access to the legislative process. [1]

GTAC has never operated an iron mine before, but that isn’t stopping them from planning the largest open pit iron mine in the world in Hurley. If completed, the mine will be 4.5 miles long, 1.5 miles wide, and 1,000 feet deep. [2]

Chris Cline, owner of The Cline Group and a billionaire coal titan, is notorious for donating large sums to politicians and agencies that control mining regulations and permits to manipulate the process in his favor.

Scott Walker’s pay-to-play culture opened the door wide open for Chris Cline to influence the legislative process and erode Wisconsin’s mining laws. Between 2010 and 2013 Cline made $14,500 in contributions to Scott Walker and state Republicans – including an $8,000 donation to Scott Walker in September of 2010. [3]

That same year, several people associated with Cline also contributed more than $40,000 to three pro-mining legislative candidates in the span of two months. In 2012, Walker raised $200,000 during a single luncheon in Palm Beach, Florida — where Cline lives. [4]

By 2013, corporate mining interests had contributed more than $15.6 million to political candidates in Wisconsin. To put that in perspective, mining interests donated $610 for every $1 donated by environmental interests. [5]
SB 1/AB 1 severely weakens environmental regulations, limits citizen input, and takes away upfront payments to communities affected by mining and job training grants to address the mining industry skills gap.

All 11 recognized tribal nations in Wisconsin are opposed to the mine, and six tribes have asked the EPA to intervene in the controversy, citing environmental concerns. [6]
RESPONSE OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN CHAIR MIKE TATE:  “In Walker’s Wisconsin you get what you pay for. For Cline and the executives at GTAC, it bought exclusive access to influence mining legislation. It even bought access to the Governor’s Office, which assisted GTAC in drafting its own legislation.”


[1] John Doe prosecutors allege Scott Walker at center of ‘criminal scheme, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/19/14

[2] “On the Front Lines of Wisconsin’s Big-Money, Small-Town Iron Mine War, Vice,6/10/14

[3] “Mine Backers Drill With Big Cash To Ease Regulations, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign,

[4] “Mine Backers Drill With Big Cash To Ease Regulations, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign,

[5] “Mine Backers Drill With Big Cash To Ease Regulations, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign,

[6] “Tribes ask EPA to intervene in Gogebic iron mine proposal. Journal Sentinel,6/27/14