Creator of 'United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, Inc.,' John Connors, is a long-time AFP affiliate, has history of deceptive campaigns…
-by Brad Freidman
August 8, 2011- On Saturday we posted an article detailing the similarities, and apparent coordination, in misleading "Absentee Ballot Application" mailers sent out to Democratic voters by both the David Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity – Wisconsin and a mysterious group calling themselves United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.
The Americans for Prosperity mailer, sent out in Wisconsin last week in advance of tomorrow's state Senate recall election of six Republican state Senators, included instructions that absentee ballots must be submitted by August 11th — even though the election in question is actually tomorrow, August 9th.
The PO Box described as the "Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center" on those mailers belonged to a Rightwing family group tied to the anti-abortion movement. A spokesperson for the group, as we reported, said that while they were part of a "coalition" with AFP, they claimed to have had no idea AFP was using their PO Box on the mailers until they started receiving them, and that they hadn't seen the mailer before it went out. For their part, AFP claimed the incorrect date was simply a "typo" in two districts where they had sent the mailings, and that "liberals" were making a "mountain out of a molehill" about it all. Late last week, however, in a followup mailing, the group admitted that it had gone out to "everyone" in all of the state Senate districts, rather than just the two where Democrats will face recall elections next week (as opposed to tomorrow's GOP recalls) and blamed the incorrect date on their printer.
The United Sportsmen of Wisconsin (USW) mailers, almost identical in form, font, content, and type-setting, as we showed, had no information about who had paid for the mailings on them, and instructed voters that they needed to return their absentee ballots to the elections clerk by August 4th — even though ballots may be delivered to the Wisconsin election clerks as late as the close of polls on August 9th.
Since we ran our article over the weekend, which suggested, among other things, previously-undocumented coordination between AFP and USW, and since there was little information to be found about USW on the web, a number of readers have been digging in to try and figure out exactly who the so-called United Sporstmen of Wisconsin actually are, as have we.
And, whaddaya know, a bit of digging reveals that the group was very recently founded by one John W. Connors, a long-time staffer and director of Americans for Prosperity, a College Republican leader, and a rather prolific founder of a number of hard-right political front groups with a record of deception in recent Wisconsin elections…
As we noted over the weekend, the web presence for United Sportsmen of Wisconsin is sparse at best, including a hastily slapped together Facebook page (which now appears to be either removed or set to private, following most of the comments on the page coming from critics of their recent misleading absentee ballot request mailing); a members-only Facebook page just created last month, days prior to their absentee mailing having gone out, and a one-page UnitedSportsmenWI.com page featuring little more than an application to join their group, along with the promise that, in doing so, "you will join a network of thousands of sportsmen across Wisconsin who will stay informed about important issues and band together to protect their rights."
Examination of the HTML for the application web page reveals that the form is an iFrame embed from a webpage at: http://jconnorsandco.us2.list-manage2.com
A reader who filled out the form found and then confirmed her web application via email, was invited to "continue to our website." Clicking on that link then took her to the website of J Connors Company, LLC at JConnorsAndCo.com.
Neither the UnitedSportsmenOfWi.com or JConnorsAndCo.com websites seem to actually offer any information whatsoever about gun ownership or hunting legislation or issues.