Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
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.”
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