Conservative Group Calls 7 Iron County Board Candidates ‘Radical Environmentalists’

Candidates Respond To Political Flyer From Americans For Prosperity With Anger, Befuddlement

Americans for Prosperity is a conservative policy group based in Virginia. Image courtesy of Americans for Prosperity

Several candidates in the April 1 election for Iron County Board say they are angry and insulted by political leaflet distributed to voters this week by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The leaflet accuses seven of the 10 candidates running for contested seats of being radical environmentalists who oppose plans for a huge iron mine in the county.

Candidate Victor Ouimette is the chair of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce who says he’s good friends with Bill Williams – the president of the Gogebic Taconite mining company – and has lobbied for the mine at the state Capitol. He says Americans for Prosperity have got it wrong if they think he’s a radical who’s opposed it.

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“That’s not the case at all,” said Ouimette. “It’s just a blatant lie.”

Ouimette says it’s insulting to have a national group try to sway the voters in a local election with misinformation.

“The people that live up here I think are smart enough to make their own decision,” he said. “They don’t need the Koch boys to tell the how to vote up here in Iron County.”

Another candidate listed as an anti-mining radical on the leaflet, Richard Thiede, says no one has ever called him a radical before.

“I am certainly not anti-mine because that’s an incredibly stupid position to take, I think,” said Thiede. “We all drive cars and have sheet rock on the walls and eat salt. I just think it has to be done intelligently and thoughtfully and with all the facts in front of everybody.”

Thiede says it’s a strange experience for many voters in this sparsely populated northern county to have a multimillion dollar lobbying group take an interest in their local election.

American for Prosperity has promised to send more pro-mining literature before the election takes place on April 1.