Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Koch brothers take pro-business cause to county election in Wisconsin's iron range, get off base

Next week's County Board of Supervisors election in Iron County, Wisconsin (Wikipedia map) doesn't seem like something that would be of much interest to anyone other than the county's 6,000 residents. But the wealth of iron ore in the area has led Americans for Prosperity, a group run by billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch, to attack on seven candidates that they deem “radical anti-mining” environmentalists, Steven Verburg reports for the Wisconsin State Journal.

"At stake is a 15-member County Board that could make monetary and other demands of Gogebic Taconite, which is already deep into a sometimes combative state permitting process over its proposal for a huge iron mine that promises jobs while inspiring worries about environmental degradation," Verburg writes.

 Iron ore deposit in red; proposed mine site circled
But the attack has caused confusion, especially since the letter sent to 1,000 homes labels some candidates openly in favor of mining as "radical," Verburg writes. One said the mailer, which reads “Call these anti-mine radicals and tell them to stand up for you and your local jobs, not radical environmental policies,” listed his neighbor's phone number instead of his.

Candidate Karl Krall was labeled as "radical" in letters, but he "said he is a strong proponent of the mine, and he is puzzled and angry about being described as a job-killing radical on the material sent to his friends, neighbors and potential voters in the district where he is a candidate," Verburg writes. Krall told Verburg, “I couldn’t believe that someone who is pro-mine and for this wouldn’t do the research on the people they are sliming in the mailing. Is that the kind of people we want supporting the mine if that’s the kind sloppy research they did? Everybody in the town except me got the flyer saying I’m an anti-mine radicalist. It’s a joke." (Read more)

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