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Follow the money: Kirk Bangstad and the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC
State Republicans filed an FEC Complaint, but an investigation by The Wausonian shows there might be something fishy here
News came from the Republican Party of Wisconsin last week — they were filing action with the Federal Elections Commission against Kirk Bangstad’s Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC.
Why? Honestly, it’s not a surprise to me, and I think there’s at least a strong chance they’re onto something. Even if not outright illegal (the FEC will decide that) some of the Super PAC’s spending looks fishy at the least.
Bangstad has been a polarizing figure to say the least — criticism of him comes from the left almost as much as the right. He has his fans, to be sure; but plenty of critics, including many Democratic women, I found out in a recent Facebook thread.
Recently the MBC Super PAC came into the news for announcing it was planning class action lawsuits in federal court in both of Wisconsin’s districts, against Wisconsin School Boards that are not requiring masks.
That caused a backlash, and caused Republicans to look into the Super PAC’s spending. What the state party found, apparently, was enough to cause it to file a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.
As a seasoned reporter, one learns to take a look oneself. The filing would still be news, but is it political football or is there something there? A look at MBC PAC’s latest spending filing shows some eye-raising entries that are worth reporting on.
So far this year (through about June) the super PAC has spent just shy of $130,000. Of that, about $9,500 has gone to Minocqua Brewing Co., super PAC founder Bangstad’s own business. According to the filing, the bulk of that spending — about $9,000 — was for “signs.”
Minocqua Brewing Co., as far as I or anyone else knows, is not in the sign business. But even if it were, should the founder of a super PAC delegate funds to a business he owns and profits from? It’s a small part of the whole — less than 10% — but it’s not nothing. It also runs counter to something Bangstad has claimed: That he’s donating 5% of Minocqua Brewing Company’s profits to the Super PAC.
The super PAC also spent $10,000 on consulting services with Sarah Yacoub, herself a candidate for the 30th Assembly District last November. Another entry has funds going to Bangstad for Wisconsin.
Super PACs are known for not having much in the way of rules. They’re pretty much an open game. Except, they have one very important rule: Money can’t go to candidate campaigns or party coffers.
Is it a technicality? After all, the payment went to Yacoub herself, not her campaign. But it would be a pretty big loophole if this were the case. Why block a candidate from collecting a Super PAC campaign donation when someone can just collect it personally? Then again, as Bangstad will tell me later, it is a pretty big loophole.
More directly, however, the SuperPAC paid Bangstad for Wisconsin $5,523 for advertising services. That seems to directly violate the one rule Super PACs have: Money can’t go to a political campaign.
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