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MADISON (WAOW) -- A conservative Wisconsin think tank is raising a red flag about the state's Democratic senators' stay in Illinois—specifically, about who paid for it.
Fourteen senators fled to Illinois in February for several weeks to stall Gov. Scott Walker's agenda. They stayed there for more than three weeks. Throughout the process, the senators repeatedly said they were paying for the trip there.
The video's announcer prefaces the clip by saying, "At the Netroots Nation Convention in June, the national political action committee, Democracy For America, claimed it provided $200,000 to fund the Democrats' Illinois getaway."
The video then jumps to a clip from the convention where Levana Layendecker, communications director for the liberal PAC Democracy For America, said, "DFA raised $200,000 for the Democratic Senate Committee to help them stay out of the state for longer."
Newsline 9 contacted Layendecker on Wednesday for clarification. She said no money ever went to Wisconsin Democratic senators to pay for their stay in Illinois. Instead, she said the money—raised by thousands of online donations—went to the State Democratic Senate Committee.
"What I meant was that Democratic members would be inspired to stay out of the state by the support for their campaigns," said Layendecker. "That is why I referenced our donations to the campaign committee specifically."
Layendecker said the MacIver Institute is trying to distract from the real issue.
"Republicans are trying to make something out of nothing to distract from the fact that they're fighting a war against working families in Wisconsin, and that the working families of Wisconsin are fighting back," said Layendecker.
But Newsline 9 discovered Layendecker's statement that DFA raised more than $200,000 was inaccurate. The online donation page shows just more than $138,000 raised. (To view the donation page, visit https://secure.actblue.com/page/heroesinwisconsin.)
"There were other groups working with us who did some additional fundraising and I was estimating the total," said Layendecker.
Gillian Morris, press secretary for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, also told Newsline 9 no money ever went to Democratic senators to pay for their stay in Illinois. She said senators paid for all expenses themselves. Morris said Layendecker was "misinformed" for suggesting any money raised was used in Illinois.
"The donations went to help the senators in their future campaigns, but it has nothing to do with what was paid for in Illinois," said Morris.
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