Michels Financed Cell Phone Surveillance of Women Accessing Health Care Facilities

Abortion rights supporters gather for a "pink out" protest organized by Planned Parenthood in the rotunda of the state Capitol Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Harm Venhuizen)

By Joe Zepecki

September 19, 2022

Recently uncovered donations from Republican nominee for Governor Tim Michels charitable foundation show that the Trump-backed candidate’s donations financed a highly controversial program that surveilled the cell phones of women seeking healthcare access. 

The stunning disclosure has put Michels on the defensive at a crucial juncture in his bid to unseat Democratic Governor Tony Evers.

“Tracking women’s cell phones who access health care at Planned Parenthood and providing them with misinformation is simply predatory behavior that undermines patient confidentiality,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin President Tanya Atkinson in the wake of the disclosure. “This also demonstrates that Tim Michels simply does not trust women to make their own informed health care decisions.” 

MIchels donations to the Veritas Society are believed to have funded, in part, a cell phone tracking program that uses geolocation technology to deliver misinformation directly to users’ cell phones after visiting health care facilities. 

In total, Michels donated $175,000 to three controversial groups in 2020 alone; Veritas Society and two radical anti-choice groups in Wisconsin, one of which even opposes access to common forms of contraception and birth control such as the pill. 

Rather than explain why he chose to give such large amounts of money to these organizations, Michels has taken to whining about the reporting that uncovered the donations. 

Holding deeply unpopular positions is, to say the least, problematic in the midst of a competitive election. Refusing to explain them or defend them is even worse. But so far, that’s what Michels has chosen to do.


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