Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Chiropractors Have Capitol Clout

Group gave $1.4 million in political donations, pushed one of most heavily lobbied bills.

By - Oct 12th, 2017 10:26 am
Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo by Rosina Peixoto.

Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo by Rosina Peixoto.

This state lobbying group, which has funneled more than $1.4 million campaign contributions to legislative and statewide candidates, is the sole backer of one of the most lobbied bills at the State Capitol during the first six months of 2017.

The measure, Assembly Bill 260, would allow chiropractors to perform physical exams on high school athletes, University of Wisconsin two-year college athletes, and truck drivers. The proposal drew about 750 hours of lobbying between January and June, including 77 hours by the Chiropractic Association. Despite opposition from 25 mostly health care industry groups, the bill was approved by the Assembly in June and awaits Senate action.

Campaign finance records show that 89 percent of the chiropractic industry’s more than $1.6 million in campaign contributions since January 2007 flowed through the association’s Chiropractic Health Information and Education conduit. Conduits are legal check-bundling operations used by numerous special interest groups to send unlimited amounts of individual contributions to candidates. Chiropractor campaign contributions ranked third behind those of doctors and dentists among contributions from more than a dozen medical professions.

And, like other smaller, but savvy special interests that lobby on state spending and policy, the chiropractors aren’t wed exclusively to Democrats or Republicans. The industry contributes to Democrats and Republicans, but also targets the party in power.

Last year, the group endorsed nine Republicans and five Democrats in 14 hotly contested legislative races. John Murray, the association’s executive director, said in a message to members that “targeting allows the WCA to have a greater impact on the key races that will determine . . . control of the legislature.”

Since January 2007, the association’s conduit contributed $894,000, or about 62 percent, to Republicans. Republicans have controlled the governor’s office and one or both houses of the legislature during most of the past 10 years.

The top recipients of chiropractor contributions were Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, legislative leaders, and the legislative campaign committees they operate to raise money to spend on elections, including:

  • Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $292,400
  • Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, about $145,550
  • Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, about $74,550
  • Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, about $62,450
  • GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, $51,200

The association, which was created in 1911 and claimed about 1,200 members a few years ago, generally lobbies on a handful of legislative bills and proposed state rules each legislative session that directly affect chiropractor education, licensing, regulation, practice, and income. Check herehere, andhere for a list of legislative bills, state budget topics, and state rules that have been of interest to the association since 2013

Since the beginning of 2007, the association has spent about $814,000 on lobbying, including $36,000 during the first six months of 2017.

During previous legislative sessions, the association supported state laws that:

  • Require chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, and optometrists to inform patients about alternative forms of treatment and the related risks and benefits;
  • Expanded the state’s popular BadgerCare Plus program.

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