Spring, 2014 | ELECTION WATCH
Operation Prosperity Inc. adds interest to Polk election
Gregg Westigard | Staff writer
BALSAM LAKE – Operation Prosperity, Inc. is a local political committee that has been active in the 2014 Polk County Board election. The group has endorsed candidates in 14 of the 15 supervisor districts, produced lawn signs for those candidates, and mailed a flyer stating their position and listing their slate. And they have generated some interest in their group and the election.
The interest started when the list of endorsed candidates was released about Feb. 20, after the primary election. No candidate that the Leader talked to, on or off the list, seemed aware that the endorsement was coming. Sharon Kelly, president of OPI, told the Leader on March 12 that the group picked its candidates based on their voting records and other things but did not elaborate. She said no questionnaires were sent out. She did not say who was involved in selecting the slate.
The group had been preparing for the county election before the primary. Operation Prosperity incorporated as a nonstockWisconsin corporation in November 2013. Sharon Kelly, Richard Hartung, Glen Clausen, Robert Blake, and Mary Hazard are listed as the initial directors. The group registered with the county clerk as a local political committee, following Wisconsin campaign financing statutes, in December. That registration lists Kelly as president, Clausen as vice president/secretary and Hazard as treasurer.
Since the endorsements, the group has made the lawn signs available for volunteers to put up. The candidates themselves apparently did not pick up and place the signs for them. OPI mailed the flyer in mid-March. OPI has also paid for automated phone calls supporting specific candidates. If these activities were done for the candidates but not working with the candidates, they are independent campaign expenditures and not in-kind donations to the candidates.
The endorsed candidates were asked about OPI during the Leader interviews and their thoughts can be in those interviews in this week’s Leader.
Operation Prosperity has filed a report on their finances through March 17. That report will list who contributed to OPI and how the money was spent. The report was not available at press time. A summary of the report will be posted on the Leader website when it is available.