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Citizens Call For Boycott Of Walker Contributors

Published On: Mar 14 2011 07:25:54 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 15 2011 12:58:22 PM CDT

The fallout from Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill has shifted to the private sector as upset citizens begin boycotts of business owners who contributed money to the governor.

The idea for boycotts has begun to spread via social media, with some state residents seeking out who gave money to Walker's campaign.

Some businesses are responding, saying that employee contributions to political campaigns don't tell the whole story.

Shopping continues at Metcalfe's Sentry as threats of a boycott begin to loom over its owner.

As many companies state, Metcalfe's itself doesn't make political contributions. I personally have. I donated in the primaries, but I didn't donate to any gubernatorial candidate in the general election," said Tim Metcalfe, owner of Metcalfe's Sentry.

Metcalfe contributed $500 to Walker's campaign in 2009 after a visit by Walker to his grocery store during the primary.

But in the general election, Metcalfe sent money to Democrats and has donated to both parties in the past.

"I think everybody has the right to make donations. The ones I made were personal and, like I said, I donate to both sides -- always have. And I've never been political in terms of making statements," Metcalfe said.

But that's not stopping people from boycotting businesses all over the state.

M&I Bank is being targeted because of donations by its top executives.

Sam Hokin started a Facebook page listing a number of businesses to boycott.

"I just grabbed the top contributors off of and put them up on a Facebook page," Hokin said. "We've had companies say, 'We give to both sides. It's not fair for you to boycott us.' It's not an issue of fair. If I don't want to buy your products, I'll choose not to buy your products."

Boycotters said they want the companies to take a position on Walker's bill, which takes away most collective bargaining rights for most state employees.

M&I Bank said in a statement that it hasn't taken a position on the bill and won't. Metcalfe said he won't take a position either.

"I'm hopeful that a political stance by a business isn't necessarily the only reason you would make a buying decision. I think we connect with the community in other ways, and I hope that that'll stand for itself," Metcalfe said.

But that doesn't mean the boycotts won't have an effect.

When Metcalfe was asked if this will affect how he deals with political contributions in the future, he replied, "I don't know. This has been a wildfire in Madison, and I don't know if I ever saw this coming. So I don't know. It definitely makes me pause."

Hokin has tried to dial back any boycott against Metcalfe, saying he has tried to make an honest effort to explain his actions and is not a major donor to Walker.

Metcalfe said that Brat Fest could be affected this year, not only for his business but also because Johnsonville employees have been large contributors to Walker.

Metcalfe's said it has a partnership agreement with Johnsonville donating 150,000 brats to the cause. Already another Facebook page has popped up calling for people to "Boycott Bratfest."

In a statement Monday, M&I Bank said its employees contributed to both candidates in the last election, but that isn't enough for some customers.

Prominent local pilot Jeff Skiles, who was co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane, told WISC-TV that he will close his accounts, which total more than $400,000, at M&I Bank on Tuesday. Others have contacted WISC-TV in the past week to say they were also closing their accounts at the bank.