Recent reports have shown that Tim Michels, the Republican nominee for governor, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ organizations. The gubernatorial candidate supported organizations that go so far as to deploy location tracking on abortion patients’ cell phones, and employs “sidewalk counseling” outside of clinics. Michels argued that he was simply expressing his religious values.
Michels has a long track record of supporting staunchly anti-abortion causes, having donated close to $200,000 to anti-abortion groups in Wisconsin and other states in 2020 through the foundation that he co-founded with his wife, Barbara Michels, and his parents’ foundation, for which he was a trustee.
Michels has supported organizations ranging from Pro-Life Wisconsin, which aims to outlaw abortions in the state, to Veritas Society, an organization that enables cell phone tracking of abortion patients to harass women who visit Planned Parenthood, through large donations.
According to the Veritas Society website, their mission is to “identify and capture the cell phone ID’s of women that are coming and going from Planned Parenthood and similar locations,” before bombarding their social media accounts with so-called “pro-life content and messaging.”
The donations have put Michels’ anti-abortion position in the spotlight for what’s become a core midterm issue. Anna Kelly, a spokesperson for the Michels campaign, chose not to clarify whether or not Michels’ $20,000 donation to Veritas Society funded the legally questionable tactic and use of cell phone tracking technology.
Kelly has repeatedly pointed to Michels’ religious beliefs to justify his support of anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ groups. Michels has gone so far as to have previously called on those who are with him to take up “pitchforks and torches,” though he later said it was a “figure of speech.”
Abortion remains one of the most galvanizing issues in the midterms, following the overturn of Roe v. Wade earlier this year. Wisconsin is one of the 14 states that has enacted a near full ban on abortion since.
“The Supreme Court overturned Roe, effectively stripping so many of our family members, friends, and neighbors of their reproductive freedom. I said last week we would fight this in every way we can with every power we have, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Gov. Tony Evers said following the court ruling.