Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Tavern League Still Has Clout in Capitol

Which is why bill to criminalize drunk driving unlikely to get legislative approval.

By - Jan 16th, 2019 10:38 am
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Car keys and drinks. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Car keys and drinks. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Renewed efforts to criminalize first-offense drunk driving in Wisconsin face tough prospects despite support from a bipartisan group of state legislators and a new Democratic governor.

That’s because, say observers, drinking beer and booze has long been part of the state’s culture, and the state tavern industry’s powerful trade and lobbying group – Tavern League of Wisconsin – has been officially neutral on past attempts to do so.

GOP Sen. Alberta Darling, of River Hills, and Republican Rep. Jim Ott, of Mequon, are reintroducing a measure that would make first-offense drunk driving a misdemeanor. The bill would allow offenders to have their record expunged if they do not commit a second offense for five years.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving lobbyist Frank Harris says GOP legislative leaders would have to change their minds on criminalizing first-offense drunken driving to move the bill through the legislature, and that “depends on if the tavern league would allow them to do it.”

During a five-year period from January 2013 through December 2017, the Tavern League’s political action committee, corporation, and conduit contributed $296,355 to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates and legislative campaign committees. The top recipients of those contributions were:

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $34,500

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $32,500

GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, about $27,800

Republican Rep. Rob Summerfield, of Bloomer, $14,200

Republican Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton, $11,470

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us