State Parties Breaking Fundraising Records
$4.9 million raised for campaigns in first half of 2018; GOP gets 23% more than Democrats.
The state Democratic and Republican parties raised nearly $4.9 million combined during the first six months of 2018, with the GOP sharply outraising Democrats. The Republican Party of Wisconsin also had five times as much money on hand as its Democratic counterpart.
The fundraising of the parties combined is three times the nearly $1.6 million combined that the parties raised during the first six months of the 2016 election year and nearly five times more than their $1 million in combined fundraising during the first six months of the 2014 election year.
The escalating increase in fundraising since 2014 is the result of sweeping changes to campaign finance laws enacted in 2015 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature. Those changes included increased individual and political action committee contribution limits and allowing political parties to accept contributions from corporations for the first time in more than 100 years.
A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review of the fundraising and spending by the parties through June showed:
- The state GOP raised nearly $2.7 million compared to the Democratic Party, which raised about $2.2 million in the first six months of 2018. The money came from individual, committee, and corporate contributions and other income;
- The state GOP saved more than the state Democratic Party. As of June 30, the state Republican Party had more than $1.2 million in its state and corporate accounts, while the Democratic Party had about $223,800;
- During the first six months of the year, the state GOP took in nearly $1.6 million in individual contributions versus about $768,000 by the state Democratic Party;
- The Republican Party accepted more political action committee, local party, and candidate committee contributions than the Democratic Party – about $794,000 versus about $573,000;
- The state Democratic Party took in sharply more money, about $740,000 versus $113,000, in “other income” made up mostly of payments for campaign services provided to Democratic legislative and statewide candidates;
- Both of the parties took in about the same amount of corporate campaign contributions during the first six months of the year, with the Democrats raising slightly more. The state Democratic Party raised about $194,650 and the state GOP raised about $176,900.
A preliminary review of state party reports covering the first six months of 2018 showed the Republican Party’s top individual contributors were:
Diane Hendricks, of Beloit, owner of ABC Supply, $500,000. Hendricks has been a frequent six-figure donor to Republican and conservative candidates and causes in Wisconsin and throughout the country.
Elizabeth Uihlein, of Lake Forest, Ill., $250,000. Elizabeth and her husband, Richard, are founder of Uline Corp., which makes packaging and moving materials. Like Hendricks, the couple gives generously to Republican and conservative candidates and causes throughout the country.
Thomas W. Smith, of Boca Raton, Fla., $100,000. Smith is founder of Prescott Investors and a managing member of Prescott General Partners.
David Herro, of Chicago, Ill., a financial advisor with Harris Associates, $100,000.
Bruce Hendry, of Drummond, Wis., retired owner of numerous Twin Cities businesses, $100,000.
A preliminary review of state party reports covering the first six months of 2018 showed the Democratic Party’s top individual contributors were:
Robert Price, of La Jolla, Calif., chairman of PriceSmart Inc., $280,000. Last year, Price contributed $300,000 to the state Democratic Party.
John W. Miller, of Cedarburg, Wis., founder of Arenberg Holdings, $200,000.
Herb Kohl, of Milwaukee, retired U.S. senator and businessman, $50,000.