Kwik Trip Among Backers of Group That Promoted Capitol Protest

Kwik Trip is among a group of Wisconsin businesses and individuals who have donated $279,000 since 2018 to a Republican group that helped organize the event that sparked the violent sacking of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The La Crosse-based corporation contributed $25,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) within the last three years, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. A fundraising arm of RAGA called the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) made robocalls urging people to attend the Jan. 6 protest at the capitol to call on Congress to “stop the steal.”

RLDF also appeared in a list of groups “Participating in the March to Save America” on the March to Save America website, which has since been taken down. According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the biggest Wisconsin contributors to RAGA between January, 2018, and late November, 2020, included the following businesses:

  • MillerCoors (now Molson Coors), of Milwaukee, $75,000
  • Foley & Lardner, of Milwaukee, $60,950
  • Wisconsin Realtors Association, of Madison, $50,000
  • Kwik Trip, of La Crosse, $25,000
  • Klondike Properties, of Monroe, $20,000
  • Michael Best Strategies, of Madison, $15,875
  • Dairy Business Association, of Green Bay, $10,000
  • Forest County Potawatomi Community, of Crandon, $10,000
  • Kinnard Farms, of Casco, $2,500
  • Heller Farm Inc., of Alma Center, $2,000
  • Norm-e-Lane Inc., of Chili, $1,000
  • Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, of Kewaunee, $1,000
  • Shiloh Dairy, of Greenleaf, $1,000

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA) noted that its donation to RAGA was made in 2018 and was due to the group’s support of the former Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.

The donation was “not in any way related to any activities that took place before or after the 2018 election cycle, including the protests in Washington, D.C. earlier this month,” a statement from the WRA added.

The “March to Save America” descended into violence when a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the U.S. Capitol, leaving five dead, including a police officer beaten to death by protesters. The rioters were fueled by baseless conspiracy theories about electoral fraud spread by many Republican leaders and groups, including Trump.

Ironically, RAGA spent months prior to the election running a campaign called “Lawless Liberals” that it launched in the wake of the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake. The campaign featured Twitter hashtags that included MAGAwithRAGA and JobsNotMobs.

“The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA)’s five-month Lawless Liberals video campaign repeatedly warned Americans about the dangerous reality of lawless liberals run amok in cities across the country,” RAGA said in a statement. 

After the sacking of the capitol, RAGA attempted to distance itself from the event, slamming the “rampant lawlessness” that occurred and claiming it had no involvement with the protests. However, RAGA was listed as a coalition partner for the event on the March to Save America website, and RLDF also made the robocalls urging “patriots” to attend. RAGA’s executive director Adam Piper resigned in the fallout from the group’s involvement in the demonstration that led to the riots.

Kwik Trip CEO Don Zietlow is a major donor to Republican causes. He gave at least $374,700 to Republican candidates and committees between Jan. 1, 2019, and the election, according to public records. That total included $200,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising account for the Trump 2020 campaign, the Republican National Committee, and a number of state party committees.

According to Documented, which investigates corporate influence over public policy, other corporate sponsors of RAGA in 2020 included Koch Industries ($375k), Comcast Corporation ($200k), Walmart ($140k), Home Depot ($125k), Amazon ($100k), TikTok ($75k), 1-800 Contacts ($51k), Chevron ($50k), The National Rifle Association ($50k), Monsanto ($50k), Facebook ($50k), Fox Corporation ($50k), Uber ($50k), Coca Cola ($50k), Exxon ($50k), and Google ($25k). RAGA is a 527 organization, which means it is a tax exempt political nonprofit that can accept and spend unlimited amounts of unregulated contributions on electioneering activities. 

Republican attorneys general spearheaded a number of the legal challenges that attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. However, as of Jan. 6, 61 of 62 lawsuits filed in state and federal court seeking to overturn election results in states Trump lost had been defeated.

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Top image credit: Tyler Merbler/CC BY 2.0. Email questions to lacrosseindependent@gmail.com.

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