The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is expanding its footprint as Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers prepares to take office.
WILL president Rick Esenberg announced on Friday that the organization has hired a veteran of the state's largest business lobby to lead its fundraising efforts and a veteran of Gov. Scott Walker's and Sen. Ron Johnson's campaigns to manage its media relations.
Jim Pugh, former vice president and treasurer of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council, will serve as WILL's vice president of development, and Brian Reisinger, most recently a senior adviser to the Walker campaign, will serve as a strategic adviser through the Platform Communications public affairs firm. Both Pugh and Reisinger are also former newspaper reporters.
"With these new hires, WILL is ready to face the new challenges to the conservative movement and threats to limited government, individual liberty, and school choice. As Wisconsin enters a new chapter in state government so does the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. The additions of Pugh and Platform Communications’ Reisinger will significantly bolster WILL's fundraising and communications capacity," Esenberg said in a statement.
The organization has also promoted several staff members from within.
Esenberg founded WILL in 2011, in part because he saw a need for an organized legal effort to defend conservative and libertarian causes. The organization has grown since then, and now includes research and advocacy arms.
As the organization expands, it is positioning itself to be a primary source of opposition to the Evers administration. Shortly after Evers was elected, Esenberg released a statement announcing that WILL "stands ready to fight."
The firm has sparred with Evers before. WILL sued Evers in 2017 in his role as state Superintendent of Public Instruction, arguing he had been violating state law by writing rules for schools without approval from Walker or his administration.