Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Republican Governors Group Has State Clout

The DC-based association gets Wisconsin donors, gave $18 million to Walker’s three elections.

By - Apr 2nd, 2018 11:38 am
Campaign Cash. Photo from the WDC.

Campaign Cash. Photo from the WDC.

This Washington, D.C.-based group, whose mission is to elect Republican candidates for governor nationwide, is one of the top-spending outside electioneering groups in Wisconsin.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) spent an estimated $18.4 million to help Republican Gov. Scott Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall and 2014 reelection campaigns. And it’s likely to up that spending total significantly as Walker is likely to run again this year. The group chose Walker as its 2017 chairman.

The group, which was created in 1963, operates a state political action committee called Right Direction Wisconsin that makes independent expenditures. In addition to disclosed spending on independent expenditures, the organization has also engaged in secret issue ad spending.

The RGA operates like most well-funded special interest groups, spending most of its cash to air broadcast ads that smear Democratic candidates by accusing them of favoring higher taxes, government spending, and other policies that hurt the economy. Here is some of the work they sponsored during Walker’s 2014 reelection bid – hereherehereherehere, and here.

The RGA uses a 527 organization to raise money from wealthy individuals, corporations, and trade organizations tied to manufacturing, health care, energy, insurance, and other powerful special interests. 527 groups must disclose fundraising and spending in periodic reports to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

But 527s are unregulated in so far as they can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from any source. Under Walker’s leadership, the group raised about $56.4 million and spent about $32.2 million nationwide in 2017, including an $86,000 contribution to Walker’s campaign and a $12,000 contribution to the state Republican Party.

Numerous kinds of outside electioneering groups, including 527s, allow wealthy donors to skirt state and federal campaign finance laws. In many cases, the source and size of the contributions to the RGA and other 527 groups would be illegal if they were direct contributions to state and federal candidates and committees.

Nearly 200 well-heeled Wisconsin individuals, businesses, trade groups, and tribes have contributed about $11 million to the RGA since the beginning of 2002, including $1.7 million in 2017 under Walker’s leadership. Seventeen Wisconsin donors have contributed $100,000 or more since 2002 led by:

Mike and Mary Sue Shannon, of Brookfield, $3 million. Mike Shannon is a managing partner with KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in travel and leisure businesses, and Mary Sue is a homemaker. The contributions include $2.5 million directly from the couple and $500,000 from the Shannon 2006 Revocable Trust, which is controlled by the Shannons and used to make contributions to outside spending groups. In addition to their RGA contributions, the couple has directly contributed $160,000 to Walker’s campaign for governor since January 2010;

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, $1,980,525. The chamber boasts 1,800 Milwaukee-area members and pushes pro-business, pro-school voucher, and anti-worker policies Between January 2010 and June 2017, the group’s PAC, corporation, and a conduit contributed about $287,500 to legislative and statewide candidates, including $35,675 to Walker. All but $3,500 of the group’s total contributions went to Republicans;

American Transmission Co., $778,600. The Waukesha company builds and operates high-voltage electric transmission lines throughout the Upper Midwest. Between January 2010 and June 2017, the company’s corporation and executives contributed nearly $291,000 to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates, including $37,325 to Walker.

Johnson Controls, $716,741. This Milwaukee company produces automotive parts and heating and cooling products for commercial buildings. Between January 2010 and June 2017, company employees contributed $74,420 to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates, including about $31,900 to Walker.

The Robert and Patricia Kern 1992 Revocable Trust, $550,000. Robert and Patricia Kern, of Waukesha, founded Generac Power Systems. The couple are longtime givers to Republican and conservative candidates and causes in Wisconsin and throughout the country. Between January 2010 and June 2017, the couple gave about $283,000 to Republican legislative and statewide candidates in Wisconsin, including $220,000 to Walker.

10 thoughts on “Campaign Cash: Republican Governors Group Has State Clout”

  1. Terry says:

    More greasy republican special interest groups on top of all the greasy out of state Dark Money republicans take. Career Polutician Scott Walker’s Wississippi is soooo.greasy.

    Dump Walker 2018

  2. Tom says:

    Buying elections and stealing our rights and freedoms. That’s the REPUBLICAN way. Scumbags

  3. WashCoRepub says:

    That list reads like a virtual ‘who’s-who’ list of successful, proud Wisconsinites! SO GLAD to see wonderful people like this stepping up to support the greatest Governor this state has ever known!

    Balanced budgets, low taxes, and record-low unemployment.

    Let’s keep winning and moving forward, Wisconsin!!

  4. Terry says:

    No more greasy republican money corrupting our politics! No more republican gerrymandering stealing our voting rights! No more corporate welfare for Chinese companies like FoxCON with their wage slave government subsidized jobs. No more Big Government Nanny State control freak corporatist sell-out republicans in Wisconsin! Let’s turn Walker’s Wississippi back into the proud state of Wisconsin again!

    Dump Walker 2018!
    Legalize cannabis!

  5. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    The MMAC is shameless right-wing sleaze. Wonder if they’ll have to take down their board members like WMC did today.

    Problem- there’s not enough money in the world to polish the turd that is Scott Walker, or the lagging state of Wisconsin.

  6. Troll says:

    Terry, in a perfect world when you need medical help. Let’s hope that 9-1-1 operator is high. Let us hope those firefighters that knock your residential door down to reach you are high. Those paramedics that give you CPR are high and those Doctors and nurses that bring you back to a quality life style are forever baked.

  7. Jacob Pickard says:

    Republicans are criminals. WashThug no different. He supports traitors and pedophiles.

  8. Terry says:

    @Nazi Troll, anymore than you’d hope they are drunk on rot-gut liquor or loaded on poison opioids? Newsflash idiot. Anyone that wants reefer is already getting it. That’s right! Sorry to burst your bubble. In fact, the entire floor of nurses at the last hospital I was at visiting a friend regularly enjoyed cannabis edibles! He said it was the best care he ever received. Nobody cares about your Big Government Nazi weed laws anymore. Medical cannabis has been legal for 20 years where I am from. Society has not collapsed. Quite the opposite in Seattle! It’s a Boomtown! Educate yourself. I’ve met little old ladies on legally prescribed cannabis oils whilw shopping at the Safeway 15 years ago. No big deal. Wisconsin is mired in the Dark Ages. You need to understand that society functions just fine without you Big Government Nanny State Nazi Republicans trying, in futility I might add, to boss everyone else around and make the “rules”. Nobody cares anymore. You Nanny State Nazis are worse than communists! Regardless, I live far, far out in the woods alone Nazi Troll. I never call 911 or the fire dept. Are you kidding? It’s like an hour and a half away.

    Dump Walker
    Legalize freedom
    Legalize ganja

  9. Troll says:

    Seattle is a boom town. Property taxes have gone up 20 percent on an average home. Where do the poor live? Does your trolley bring in the “help”? Where do your retires live? I guess all is fair in freedom and Capitalism. Does the passionate state of Washington sweep out the working people? Democrats plow more into state education as enrollment numbers dwindle. Teachers first right, Terry?

  10. Terry says:

    @Nazi Troll, Home prices have also gone from 150k in the late 90’s to 800k now moron, (including condos!) as the economy BOOMED and then BOOMED again and again and as population BOOMED? Why do republicans hate prosperity? Why are you so resentful of the success of liberal blue states?? Do tell, Nazi Republican Troll. Do tell!

    Dump Walker 2018
    Legalize cannabis! Northern Wisconsin needs the jobs and economic BOOM other states are reaping.

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