Watchdog group: Political donations from state-owned companies have doubled since 2020

Corporate donors have given Republican Party groups in Wisconsin more than three times as much money as they give to Democratic Party groups so far this year, according to a fundraising watchdog group. campaign, and they spend twice as much on political contributions as they did two years ago.

Through June 2022, the companies have donated $633,393 to the state’s Republican Party, Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported Thursday after reviewing campaign finance reports.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party, Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, and state Senate Democratic Committee received $188,500 in corporate contributions during the same period, the Campaign for Democracy has revealed. . This translates to $3.65 given to GOP groups for every dollar given to Democratic groups.

Donors include businesses, unions and trade groups representing healthcare, agriculture, construction, insurance, banking, manufacturing, tourism, energy, real estate and other sectors .

Wisconsin banned political donations from corporations or unions for more than a century until 2015, when the then governor. Scott Walker signed legislation repealing the ban. The 2015 law allows corporate contributions of up to $12,000 per year to each political party and legislative campaign committee.

Party organizations are not allowed to spend this money directly on candidates or for campaign advertising, but they can use it to pay party and committee officials’ salaries, rent, and other similar expenses.

Matthew Rothschild

That distinction, however, makes no sense, says Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

“It’s a joke that this money is sequestered in a separate account,” says Rothschild. Earmarked for overhead, business money frees up other funds that come in. “That’s more money they have to spend on political advertising. Money is essentially fungible.

Wisconsin business donations to both parties and four legislative campaign committees totaled $821,893 for the first six months of 2022. For the same period in 2020, the total was $403,635, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported. .

“Every time we look in every category, fundraising records are broken,” says Rothschild.

One trend he has seen, however, is that corporate donors are spending less money on the parties themselves. Instead, they donate more directly to Assembly and Senate campaign groups, perhaps because they believe that “they get more for their money by donating to legislative committees than to parties”, he said.

Among the top spenders, many organizations sent money to both political parties, while tending to favor one over the other.

“It’s a brilliant tactic – they grease the wheels of both sides, so whoever is in power wins,” Rothschild said. “When they come knocking on the door on either side of the aisle, their knocks are answered.”

WEC Energy Group of Milwaukee, which owns electric and natural gas utilities, gave $24,000 to GOP groups, split between the Republican Assembly and Senate campaign committees. He also donated $12,000 to the Democratic Party.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), however, spent $36,000 entirely on Democrats: $12,000 each for the party and the two legislative campaign committees.

Other major donors:

  • Wisconsin Association of Health Plans (Insurance Trade Group): $33,500 total—$12,000 each to the Republican Assembly and Senate campaign committees and $2,500 to the Republican Party; $5,000 to the Democratic Party and $1,000 each to the Democratic Assembly and Senate campaign committees.
  • Potawatomi Community of Forest County: $30,000 in total — $12,000 to the Democratic Party and $3,000 each to the Democratic Assembly and Senate committees; $6,000 each to Republican Assembly and Senate committees.
  • Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association: $28,000 total – $12,000 each to Republican Assembly and Senate committees; $4,000 to the Democratic Assembly Committee.

Get morning headlines delivered to your inbox