Empower Wisconsin is a right-wing blog self-described as "Wisconsin's premier information hub" launched on September 9, 2019. It is registered as a 501(c)(4) with the IRS.
Empower Wisconsin will also launch a 501(c)(3) foundation, according to its website that says news of it is "coming soon."
News and Controversies
Matt Kittle Named Executive Director
“Empower Wisconsin will educate, advocate and mobilize conservative voices with a strong and well-defined issue agenda. In addition, it will develop a network of like-minded organizations at the state and federal levels to maximize the power of our collective efforts,” Kittle said in a press release on the announcement.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
According to the Washington Post:
- "Early in his libertarian days, O’Keefe became friendly with the Koch brothers, with whom he has joined in many battles, mainly through independent groups that the courts have empowered to raise unlimited money, often without having to identify their donors."
O'Keefe was listed as a presenter at the June 2010 Koch network meeting in Aspen, Colorado. He sat on the board of the Koch's Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) and was also on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, a Koch-founded libertarian think tank. SAM's internship recruitment page was connected to Koch Industries through the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program. The program was administered through the IHS and the State Policy Network and featured on the IHS website.
O'Keefe was invited to present at a meeting of conservative donors plotting a campaign against Democrats and climate change organized by the Koch brothers at Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Ranch Mirage, California in January 2011, according to a list obtained by Lee Fang and published by ThinkProgress.
O'Keefe previously worked for Citizens for Congressional Reform, a project of David Koch's Citizens for a Sound Economy (the predecessor to Americans for Prosperity). He has also been featured at events funded by David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group.
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
As of September 2019, Empower Wisconsin's funding is unknown because it has not disclosed its funders and 2019 IRS filings have not been submitted.
As of September 2019, Empower Wisconsin's financials are unknown because it has not filed a 2019 IRS form nor has it disclosed its finances.
As of September 2019:
- Adam Jarcow, President
- Eric O'Keefe, Director
- Valerie Johnson, Secretary/Treasurer
- Matt Kittle, Executive Director
As of September 2019:
- Scott Walker, former Governor of Wisconsin
- Vicki McKenna, right-wing talk show host
- Eric O'Keefe, Director, Empower Wisconsin
- Empower Wisconsin, about us, Empower Wisconsin, accessed September 23, 2019.
- Empower Wisconsin, Empower Wisconsin Foundation, Empower Wisconsin, accessed September 23, 2019.
- Matt Kittle, Empower Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s New conservative information hub, WisPolitics, September 9, 2019.
- Marc Fischer, "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall: Big money fuels small-government fight," Washington Post, March 25, 2012. Accessed June 12, 2014.
- Eric O'Keefe, Past Experience, personal website, accessed June 12, 2014.
- Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Dawn Teo, Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement: Sam Adams Alliance, Huffington Post, Dec. 11, 2009
- Charles G. Koch, Invitation Letter, September 24, 2010, obtained by Lee Fang and published by Think Progress, October 20, 2010.
- Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Dawn Teo, Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement: Sam Adams Alliance, Huffington Post, Dec. 11, 2009.