$1.1 Million in Corporate Political Gifts in 2019
Total amount given to state party groups, with 78% going to Republicans.
The state Democratic and Republican parties and four legislative fundraising committees accepted more than $1.1 million in corporate contributions in 2019, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) preliminary review found.
The state Republican party and the two GOP legislative fundraising committees accepted about $882,800, or 78 percent, of the corporate contributions. The state Democratic Party and the two Democratic legislative fundraising committees raised about $250,600, or 22 percent of the corporate contributions.
The parties and committees and the amount of corporate contributions they accepted in 2019 were:
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $438,707
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $393,185
Republican Party of Wisconsin, $50,910
State Senate Democratic Committee, $115,000
Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $79,450
Democratic Party of Wisconsin, $56,143
The WDC review of corporate contributions shows potential violations of the law by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), a national 527 group, and potentially by the recipients of those funds. The WDC is filing complaints about these discrepancies with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
The corporate contributions came from business, union, tribal and trade associations representing a wide array of special interests, including business, real estate, manufacturing, tourism, energy, construction, and telecommunications.
The top corporate contributors to the parties and committees in 2019 were:
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Washington, D.C., $60,000 to the state Democratic Party and the two Democratic legislative campaign committees;
Charter Communications, St. Louis, MO, $44,000 to the four legislative campaign committees;
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, Madison, $43,000 to the four legislative campaign committees;
Wisconsin Realtors Association, Madison, $40,000 to three legislative campaign committees and the state GOP;
WEC Energy Group, Milwaukee, $36,000 to the four legislative campaign committees.
The $1.1 million-plus in corporate contributions in 2019 was third-highest in the last four years.
Corporate contributions from previous years totaled:
Nearly $1.7 million in 2018;
More than $1.2 million in 2016;
More than $1 million in 2017.
Corporate contributions, like other political fundraising, were lower in odd-numbered, non-election years compared to even-numbered election years when fundraising is more active.
Corporate contributions were allowed for the first time in 2016 under sweeping changes to state campaign finance laws by the GOP-controlled legislature and former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. For more than 100 years prior to this, corporate contributions were illegal.