Wisconsin Merchants Federation

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Wisconsin Merchants Federation (WMF) describes its goal as "[m]aking it more efficient and economical for retailers to do business in our state. ... We believe the WMF to be the first line of defense to insure that what is in the best interest of retailing becomes the law of the land in Wisconsin."[1]

WMF is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(6) organization, which is used for business leagues. In its 2005 filing with the IRS, WMF reported $521,152 in assets and $1,228,182 in income. [2] In 2006, WMF reported $668,494 in income from membership dues, $1,035,172 in total revenue, $449,237 in net assets, and $154,253 in lobbying and political expenses. The 2006 report also lists "WI Chapter National Hearing Aid Society" and "WI Jewelers Association" as organizations related to WMF.[3]

WMF lists the following as "a small representation" of their successes: [4]

  • Repeal of the personal property tax on merchants inventory;
  • Passage of legislation requiring photos on drivers’ license;
  • Elimination of caps on interest rates;
  • Passage of retail theft laws;
  • The defeat of mandatory item pricing legislation; and
  • Passage of the most experienced rate unemployment compensation rates in the nation.

Ties with the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists

WMF shares two staff people (Mary Kaja and Beth Arneson), its physical address and phone number with the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists (AWL). According to WMF's website, in 1984 "[t]he Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists retains the WMF for association management. The AWL is a member organization of Wisconsin’s top lobbyists." [5]

Lobbying on video franchise legislation

According to WMF's weekly reports on its activities (archived online as "The Past Week in Review"), the group has waged a sustained lobbying effort in favor of Wisconsin Senate Bill 107 / Assembly Bill 207, called the "Video Competition Act." As detailed by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the bill comes from model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council and has been strongly supported by AT&T. [6] [7]

WMF's lobbying on behalf of the bill include testifying in favor of the bill on March 27, 2007, as part of a combined hearing of the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail. WMF explained that it supported the bill for such "obvious benefits" as "increased consumer choices, a state-wide franchise agreement/application process, local control over public rights-of-way and the continuation of fees paid to local communities," as well as "the economic development aspect of this legislation, in the form of new jobs created and additional capital invested in our state."[8]

On August 1, 2007, WMF's David Storey spoke at a press conference in favor of SB 107 / AB 207. "The press conference was organized by the Washington-based, non-profit organization, Fiber-To-The-Home Council," according to WMF's weekly report. "Joining Storey in speaking at the press conference were representatives of the Milwaukee-based, Competitive Wisconsin, and The Wisconsin Technology Council. Although the proposed legislation promises to increase the level of competition in the video entertainment business in Wisconsin, the thrust of the press conference was focused on the economic development aspects of the bill. This legislation promises to create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin as well as bring (literally) hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment to our state." [9]

WMF's weekly update on October 12, 2007 referred to a poll on SB 107 / AB 207, conducted by The Mellman Group. "In a recent consumer survey, conducted on behalf of the Wisconsin Video Choice Coalition (of which your WMF is a founding member), by an almost 3 to 1 ratio, 65% of those polled favored legislation that would encourage new providers that would offer new video and cable services. This past week, similar to meetings we had in recent weeks with legislators, we met with members of the governor’s senior staff regarding the polling showing support for these bills."[10]


From the WMF website: [11]

From their 2005 IRS report:[2]

  • Alan Rudnick - Treasurer; B. Rudnick, Inc.
  • Kent Morris - Director; Wal-Mart Stores
  • Eric Douglas - Director; Walgreen Drug Stores
  • Fritz Ragatz - Director; Oriental Specialties
  • Ed Mies - Director; P.S.R. Inc.
  • Mike Bettiga - Director; ShopKo Stores
  • Dennis Markos - Secretary; Hankscraft
  • Richard Schepp - Chairman of the Board; Kohls Department Stores
  • John Haka - Director; Midwest Hardware Association
  • Jose Delgado - Director; ATC
  • Dennis Honan - Director; Lands End (not listed among WMF's 2006 Board of Directors)

Contact information

Website: http://www.wismerchants.com

Wisconsin Merchants Federation
1 East Main Street, Suite 305
Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 608-257-3541
Fax: 608-257-8755

SourceWatch resources

External links


  1. "Homepage," WMF website, accessed October 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Report Page: Wisconsin Merchants Federation," GuideStar.org, accessed October 2007.
  3. "WMF 2006 form 990," via GuideStar.org, accessed October 2007.
  4. "Issues," WMF website, accessed October 2007.
  5. "About Us," WMF website, accessed October 2007.
  6. Hadrian, "Phone Friends," Big Money Blog, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, March 29, 2007.
  7. "Bills and Rules Lobbied by AT&T," Wisconsin Ethics Board website, accessed October 2007.
  8. "The Past Week in Review (PDF file)," Wisconsin Merchants Federation, March 30, 2007.
  9. "The Past Week in Review (PDF file)," Wisconsin Merchants Federation, August 3, 2007.
  10. "The Past Week in Review (PDF file)," Wisconsin Merchants Federation, October 12, 2007.
  11. "Contact Us," WMF website, accessed October 2007.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Contact Us," AWL website, accessed October 2007.


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