By Raymond Neupert/South Metro Observer
WAUSAU, Wis. – An outside group seems to be trying to influence a proposed Marathon County metallic mining ordinance with a dark money ad on Facebook.
“Dark money” refers to political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where the donor is not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown.
The sponsored post on Facebook was posted around 9 a.m. Saturday morning and was sent to residents across Marathon County and came from a website named Marathon Mining Jobs.
The ad specifically calls on residents to contact members of the county’s Executive, Land Conservation and Zoning, and Environmental Resources committees to support “Clean Mining” in Marathon County.
“Throughout the Midwest, we have seen what mining can mean for a local economy,” the message reads. “The economic footprint from clean mining projects would directly benefit Marathon County’s businesses, workers, and families. The potential for economic growth is exciting and real.”
There is no indication on either the Facebook page or the website of who is sponsoring this message or who has paid for it to be spread as political advertising to the area. A search of the company WHOIS data for the website itself tracks back to a company named Contact Privacy Inc. of Toronto, Canada. Any further information on the website’s owners has been obfuscated.
Attempts to reach Contact Privacy were met with a recording instructing people to use their website to find out who runs a particular page. The page used to contact clients of Contact Privacy was broken as of the time of this writing.
The county is currently discussing how best to proceed with a proposed measure regulating metallic mining in the region, after changes in state law would allow for the opening of mining sites in the state.
The county’s Land Conservation and Zoning committee is holding another public hearing on the issue later this month, following a lengthy discussion and public hearing on March 1. The county board has until the end of June to put ordinances into place before the state will start considering mining applications and permits from companies.
Currently, only one company has expressed interest in a potential gold and copper mining region in the county. Aquila Resources, also of Toronto, Canada, has shown interest in the past for what’s known as the Reef Deposit which lies near the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park.