Issue Ads on Mining Controversy
4:53 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Iron County Elections Draw Outside Attention

A conservative political advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers is dipping its hand into Iron County board elections.  Americans For Prosperity has been mailing fliers to Iron County residents. 

Downtown Hurley, WI.
Downtown Hurley, WI.
Credit http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8b/Hurley_Wisconsin_Sign_Iron_County_Sign.jpg

The fliers decry the influence of wealthy radical environmentalists who oppose a mine in Iron County, and point the finger at seven candidates who are challenging county board seats in next week’s election.     

First on the list is Hurley resident Michael McGrath, who is challenging chairperson Joe Pinardi for his seat on the board.  McGrath says his motivation to run for public office did come from the mining issue, but he doesn’t see himself as a radical. 

“I guess I would be against the mine but as far as call me a radical environmentalist, I don’t think so. Talk to any of my friends, I don’t think I’m like that.” 

Iron County board elections are attracting more attention than usual, with the mine a central issue and ten out of fifteen seats contested.  But 10th District candidate Dick Thiede, who’s also listed on the flier as a radical environmentalist, laughs at the idea of spending money on the race. 

“In my little district, if everybody voted that has voted in the last seven elections, that would be 265 people. Generally the voters range around 150 mark for the two towns.  So if I was to get 76 votes I might win it.  No, there’s nothing to spend any money on.”

Thiede says five rolls of stamps and a $30 Facebook ad are the extent of his campaign spending.  He says it’s ironic that a group funded by billionaires would be criticizing the influence of outsiders. 

Americans for Prosperity could not be reached for comment on deadline.