Former Senator Russ Feingold, now the head of Progressives United, a new organization dedicated to fighting the corporate takeover of government, will make his first appearance at a Netroots Nation conference, delivering the opening keynote on Thursday, June 16 in Minneapolis. Though Feingold has appeared at individual Netroots Nation-affiliated events in Washington, he has never attended the annual gathering of progressives from across the nation.

With the events in Madison over the past month sparking a new mass movement on the progressive side, Feingold is a good choice. He has involved himself in the Wisconsin labor protests and marched with protesters at one point, and practically every rally in Madison has included some variant of a “Feingold for Governor” sign. If the labor-progressive alliance builds enough momentum to launch a recall of Governor Scott Walker in January 2012, that opportunity could open up earlier than expected. Feingold would probably have attended no matter the political situation, but the potential for an early comeback adds some resonance to this speech to a natiional audience of opinion leaders.

In a statement announcing the keynote, Feingold likened recent events in Wisconsin to a more general corporate power play extending from the Citizens United decision:

If you’re following what’s going on in Wisconsin, then you’re seeing what I’m seeing: the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations that continue to invade our system of government.

And that’s why I just launched Progressives United, a new organization that will bring together progressives like you to fight back against that corporate influence [...]

Change won’t come easy. We’ll need to support candidates who will work for the people. We’ll need to call out the media — something the Netroots does well — when they hide from the real story. And we’ll need to keep the pressure on Congress and those in Washington who oppose real change.

The Netroots have long fought for clean elections and good government, and I’m truly looking forward to working together, United, to continue that fight.

The Wisconsin protests, and the movement they have sparked, are sure to be a major topic for discussion at the annual conference. Russ Feingold will kick off that discussion.