Who’s Behind the Dark Money Group that Claims It Flipped Swing State in 2016?

Who’s Behind the Dark Money Group that Claims It Flipped Swing State in 2016?

As Wisconsinites know, the margin in Wisconsin was razor thin in the 2016 presidential election, and the outcome was decisive for the nation. (This op-ed was first published in the Capitol Times.)

Pundits have heaped credit or blame on Brad Parscale’s digital ads, Russian interference, Hillary Clinton not coming back after Bernie Sanders won the primary, or Jill Stein holdouts. But one confidential report obtained by True North Research raises new and troubling questions about a self-proclaimed “independent” women’s group that has claimed credit for Trump’s win, which it likely hopes to replicate in 2020.

The report, titled “Analysis of the Effects of Information Quizzes on Policy Knowledge, Preferences, and Attitude Change in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York-19” was prepared by Shaw & Company Research for the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and its 501(c)(4), Independent Women’s Voice (IWV).

The Independent Women’s Forum is a pay-to-play special interest group that launched in 1991 to help secure the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court despite allegations of sexual harassment that threatened to end his nomination by President George H.W. Bush.

Despite having been active in Wisconsin since at least 2011, the group has largely managed to fly under the radar and avoid any real scrutiny thanks in part to its innocuous sounding name. As IWF President Heather Higgins, who also serves as the CEO of IWV, told major donors, “(b)eing branded as neutral, but actually having people who know know that you’re actually conservative puts us in a unique position.”

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