December 1, 2015

State Republicans file complaint over Trek ad

Mary Burke and Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

Mary Burke and Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson, file)

The state Republican Party is accusing the Trek Bicycle Corporation of using corporate tax dollars to help a Democratic candidate for governor.

The Party argues Trek is trying to aid Democrat Mary Burke’s bid for governor with a full-page advertisement it ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other papers over the weekend. It criticizes Republican Governor Scott Walker over an ad his campaign released last week, which implies Mary Burke profited by Trek’s decision to outsource jobs to China.

Burke is the daughter of Trek’s founder, a former executive, and her brother currently runs the company. Both she and the company have argued that Walker’s ad attacks a Wisconsin-based company that employs 1,000 workers in the state. The newspaper ad makes no mention of Burke’s ties to the company.

In a complaint filed with the state Government Accountability Board, the Wisconsin GOP argues the ad violates state laws against corporations making contributions to candidate committees. It estimates the ad would have cost Trek over $22,000 to run and it does nothing to dispute the facts Governor Walker laid out in his original campaign ad about how “Mary Burke accumulated her wealth by profiting from a company that outsourced Wisconsin jobs to places like China.”

In a statement, Trek spokeswoman Marina Marich said “The Governor’s television ad clearly attacked Trek, and Trek is entitled to defend itself under the First Amendment by running its own advertisements containing the true facts. We are confident that our letter published in newspaper advertisements is constitutionally protected free speech that fully complies with Wisconsin law.”

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