By Elizabeth DiNovella on November 17, 2012

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was elected vice chairman of the powerful Republican Governors Association at its meeting in Las Vegas this week.

"The American people want their political leaders to tackle the toughest issues, reform entitlements, and balance budgets while holding the line on taxes," said Walker in a press release. "That's exactly what Republican governors are doing."

The recent election of President Obama and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin suggests otherwise, but Walker disagrees.

"I think it's not that our beliefs are wrong," said Walker. "I don't think we do an effective enough job of articulating those beliefs and what it means in people's lives."

The Republican Governors Association may not be well known, but it should be. The group played a major role in the Republican takeover of the gubernatorial level in 2010 and 2012 elections. The GOP now controls 30 governorships.

The group spent millions in Wisconsin to get Walker elected in 2012, and to keep him in office during the 2012 recall election.

The Republican Governors Association and groups like it are starting to take the place of national political committees. They sometimes spend more money than the candidates. It's understandable -- these groups can raise unlimited amounts of money.

The groups file with the IRS as a nonprofit "527" committee. (The 527 refers to the tax code.) This status gives the group lots of flexibility, as there are no upper limits on contributions, and any type of donor can contribute.

The top donors to the Republican Governors Association are a who's who of corporations: Amway, AT&T, Blue Cross, Koch Industries, PhRMA, and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

527 groups such as the Republican Governors Association are ways to shuffle money around, says Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The groups act as clearinghouses "to wipe fingerprints off the money," he says. Thus, voters are unable to see which companies or CEOs are influencing their state elections.

And since the association is focused on state, not federal, elections, it is largely unregulated by the Federal Election Commission.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was also elected to the executive committee of the Republican Governors Association and provides a perfect example of the shell game.

An October article published by the Center for Public Integrity and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism explained how in 2010, the Wisconsin state PAC of the national association gave Corbett more than 20 percent of his total fundraising, "making the RGA his campaign's top donor," even though Pennsylvania law bans candidates from accepting corporate money and the group is awash in corporate dollars.

"In a single day," the article states, a $1.5 million gift traveled from the national organization "to the RGA Wisconsin PAC, then to the RGA Pennsylvania PAC and finally to Corbett's campaign account. By the time the donation reached Corbett, it was impossible to identify the original source of the cash or whether the donation was permissible under state law."

Walker and Corbett join other rising stars of the GOP on the executive committee, including Florida Governor Rick Scott, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Nearly all of these governors backed away from Mitt Romney's comments about gifts this week, especially as they jockey for 2016 ticket.

Walker called for a break from the relentlessly negative effort the Romney camp employed. "There's got to be a positive reason to support Republicans," he said. The GOP, he said, isn't "just for people who are currently not dependent on the government."

But dependency on corporate cash? That's OK.

If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Jesse Jackson Jr May End Up in Jail Rather than Congress."

Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter.

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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