I am writing in response to an open letter posted on RightWisconsin regarding Club for Growth PAC’s endorsement in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race. Let me begin by saying I appreciate the author’s candor and prior support for the national Club for Growth. I’d like to take this opportunity to explain how Club for Growth PAC operates so our members can better understand why we endorsed Kevin Nicholson over Leah Vukmir in the 2018 Senate race.

Club for Growth and Club for Growth PAC focus exclusively on economic issues, like taxes, spending, regulation, entitlements, and trade. In short, when Club for Growth PAC interviews and researches candidates for federal office, we look to see whether the candidate passes the fiscal smell test. Club for Growth PAC analyzed Vukmir’s record on economic issues in Wisconsin and found it wanting.

Throughout her 15 years in state office, Vukmir voted for at least 58 higher taxes and fees, including her first budget as a state senator in 2011, which included a net tax and fee increase of $87 million (Act 32, 2011). In 2015, Vukmir again voted for the budget, which contained six separate tax increases and 13 major fee increases (Act 55, 2015).

On spending issues, Vukmir favored spending projects for politically connected entities over protecting Wisconsin taxpayers, like the $250 million in corporate welfare Vukmir proudly supported for the Milwaukee Bucks (Milwaukee Business Journal, 07/15/15). This is exactly the kind of big-government, “pro-business” spending we’ve seen from Republicans in Washington –doling out big checks to powerful companies and industries and sending American taxpayers the bill.

A number of other votes demonstrate Vukmir’s fondness for big government.  Consider her vote to create a government entity called the “Conduit Revenue Bonding Commission” with the power to take private property through eminent domain (Act 205, 2009). The Supreme Court in the Kelo case gave liberals the green light to take private property, but true conservatives know it’s wrong.  Consider Vukmir’s vote to increase her own pay by 31 percent (Green Bay Press-Gazette, 02/23/17).

Vukmir has increasingly demonstrated a penchant for big government over the free market, as well as a brazen disregard for taxpayer dollars. With this kind of attitude, it is likely that a Senator Vukmir would stand with the D.C. establishment in supporting debt limit increases, corporate cronyism, tax increases, and pork projects. After all, she supported all of these polices in the state legislature.

At Club for Growth PAC, we have interviewed and met many politicians over the years. We have heard all kinds of promises and predictions. Candidates and politicians should not be measured by catch phrases and campaign bluster, but by their actions and their votes. A prior record is the best predictor of how a candidate will act in higher office. By that standard, Leah Vukmir’s record shows that on key issues – tax increases, spending, and protecting private property – she will side with Democrats.


David McIntosh

President, Club for Growth

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