The owner of a Sturgeon Bay business has used his corporation, Cedar Creek Carpet, to pay for advertising in the recent election, criticizing some candidates and endorsing others.
It appears to be the first time a corporate expenditure on behalf of local candidates has been made in local races for Sturgeon Bay city council and the office of mayor.
Ken MacDonald, owner of Cedar Creek Carpet in Sturgeon Bay, has been a frequent critic of Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront and Sturgeon Bay Historical Society. The Friends group is responsible for litigation that stopped the development of a hotel on the west-side waterfront that MacDonald supported.
The Sturgeon Bay Historical Society recently negotiated a development agreement that would move the Teweles and Brandeis granary back to its original location on the west side waterfront.
MacDonald has opposed both positions on social media posts for several years.
MacDonald’s business, Cedar Creek Carpet, Inc., paid for local radio ads that, he says, were as much against two groups as they were for others.
MacDonald said he does not consider ads criticizing some candidates and supporting others as “political advertising.”
Social media posts described MacDonald’s ads as “vicious” and “angry.”
The use of corporate money to purchase political advertising was illegal before 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent communications from for-profit corporations.
MacDonald’s use of his corporation, Cedar Creek Carpet, to purchase advertising on behalf of candidates for public office appears to be the first time it has been reported as required by Federal Communications Commission disclosure rules even though MacDonald said he’s done it before.
Good government groups like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause have worked to overturn Citizens United, saying corporate money corrupts the political systems for and should be banned.