A couple of months ago, I reported that part-time Wisconsin Governor and full-time presidential wannabe Scott Walker and his mini-me, plutocrat and Milwaukee County Emperor Executive Chris Abele were hammering out a deal that would take hundreds of millions of dollars and give it to the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks so they could build a palatial playground and buy all the land around it for their greater profit. Most of the money that Walker and Abele would give away would come from the poorest of the poor.
As I repeatedly tell the gentle reader, when it comes to all things Walker and/or Abele, there's more. There's always more.
Per the International Business Times, it appears that one man stands to really gain from the bailout of the sports franchise - Jon Hammes. Hammes just happens to be a part owner of the Bucks, a real estate mogul and, oh yeah, the finance co-chair of Walker's presidential campaign:
In the year leading up to the announcement of his presidential campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker championed a high-profile proposal to spend a quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayer money to help finance a new Milwaukee Bucks arena -- all while pushing to slash roughly the same amount from state funding for higher education. One of those who stands to benefit from the controversial initiative is a longtime Walker donor and Republican financier who has just been appointed by the governor to head his presidential fundraising operation.
Real estate mogul Jon Hammes, who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and causes, is a prominent member of the investor group that owns Milwaukee’s NBA team. Last week CNN reported that he also will serve as the Walker campaign’s national finance co-chairman. Days after that appointment, Walker’s Republican allies in the Wisconsin state Senate backed the governor’s proposal to spend public funds on a new arena for the Bucks.
In his speech announcing his presidential candidacy, Walker presented himself as a free-market conservative and derided what he called a “top-down, government-knows-best approach” to economic policymaking. Hammes serves on the board of a conservative think tank called the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that says “competitive free markets, limited government, private initiative and personal responsibility are essential to our democratic way of life.”
But under Walker’s proposal, the government would redistribute taxpayer money to a project benefiting Hammes and other Bucks investors.
A representative for Walker defended the proposal, saying in a statement: “Governor Walker's focus is on protecting Wisconsin’s taxpayers from the negative financial impact of losing the Bucks, while balancing state and local support.”
A Walker campaign aide additionally asserted that it was “a dangerous leap” for International Business Times to ask about the propriety of subsidizing a deal in which Hammes could benefit. “The stadium deal has been in the works much longer than he has been involved with the campaign,” the aide said.
However, before Walker proposed the arena deal, Hammes had donated more than $15,000 to his gubernatorial campaigns, according to state campaign finance data. Federal records also show that over the last decade, Hammes has donated almost $280,000 to Republican candidates and third-party groups -- including more than $14,000 to the Wisconsin Republican Party. Hammes Company in 2010 donated $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which that year spent heavily in support of Walker's first run for governor. Jon Hammes also contributed $500 to Walker while he was a Milwaukee county executive.
One thing that the reporters missed is that Hammes is also on the long list of people who donated to Walker and benefited from Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, whose sole purpose for existence appears to be to reward Walker's supporters with taxpayers' money.
While Abele doesn't have the direct pay for play ties with Hammes that Walker does, there is no doubt a special relationship between the two men. They are on many of the same organization boards, including the Greater Milwaukee Committee, which is nothing more than a country club for plutocrats.
Abele and Hammes also share the same love for plantation economics, which Hammes proved by stating, "No one gives a blank about low-wage workers." When the news came out that Hammes had made this vulgar comment, Abele was the first to rush to his defense.
Ah yes, crony capitalism at its finest - or worst - depending on what side of the 1% you're on.