By Matthew Rothschild on May 11, 2012

Scott Walker admitted back in January 2011 to his biggest donor, Diane Hendricks, that he wanted to “divide and conquer” organized labor in Wisconsin. She urged him to turn Wisconsin into a “right-to-work” state.

She gave Walker $500,000 on April 12 this year and $10,000 on January 31 last year, making her his single biggest contributor.

So who is she?

She lives in Afton, Wisconsin. She’s 65. She owns ABC Supply, a roofing company in Beloit. She’s worth $2.8 billion, at least according to a profile at Forbes.com.

She “took over roofing empire ABC Supply after her husband and business partner, Kenneth Hendricks, died in 2007. Today she controls the nation's largest roofing, window and siding wholesale distributor,” Forbes said. And she lives on a “200-acre estate.”

She gives speeches for a fee range between $50,000 and $100,000.

In 2010, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was worried the United States was becoming a “socialistic ideological nation.”

She wrote an op-ed in November 2010 for USA Today entitled “Government, Get Out of the Way of Business.”

It began: “Taxing job creators is a sure way to stop the engine of economic growth. We need to get out of the way of the small business owner — and big business owners — and allow them to do what government can only dream of doing: creating jobs and thereby creating wealth. We must lower the corporate tax rate, simplify the entire tax code, reduce the regulatory burden and resolve the uncertainty that surrounds recently passed and pending legislation.”

She added: “Politicians are taking away our economic rights and freedoms,” and compared those to “our right to vote and our right to worship.” She said companies “need incentives, not penalties.”

Aside from pouring money into Scott Walker’s wallet, she has consistently helped out other Wisconsin Republicans.

She gave Tommy Thompson $12,500 between 1991 and 1998, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. She gave him $2,300 in 2007 when he flirted with running for President. And she gave him $5,000 on December 31, 2011, as he prepared to run for the U.S. Senate, according to opensecrets.org.

She also gave Ron Johnson $4,800 in 2010 for his successful run against Sen. Russ Feingold.

And she’s a fan of Paul Ryan’s, giving him $6,300 over the last five years.

Plus, she gave the Republican National Committee at least $63,900 last year, and the Republican Party of Wisconsin $10,000, according to opensecrets.org.

She also has attended the Koch Brothers’ gathering of rightwing funders, according to Mother Jones.

Despite Hendricks’s rabidly anti-union attitude, ABC Supply says on its website that it is an “employee-first company.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Ending the Age of Austerity in Europe."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

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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