Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

The State’s Top 25 Fat Cats

Diane Hendricks and Lynde Uihlein lead the list of top political donors over last 25 years.

By - May 3rd, 2020 03:55 pm
Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and for the occasion, we’ve put together two tables to show you who the big players are in the political money game in Wisconsin.

One table shows you the top 25 individual contributors over the last 25 years. Number one on that table is Republican donor Diane Hendricks (and her late husband Kenneth), who donated $860,227. Of the top 25 donors, 19 are Republican and 6 are Democratic. Combined, the Republican donors gave $6,982,137, and the Democratic donors gave $2,448,949.

Another table shows the top special interest contributions over the last 25 years by category. All told, these special interest groups spent $363 million in Wisconsin to elect candidates to do their bidding. The top 5 categories were:

Political/Ideological: $45,443,000.

Retired, Homemakers, or Non-Income Earners: $41,348,000.

Banking & Finance: $23,855,000.

Manufacturing & Distributing: $23,189,000.

Lawyers, Law Firms, and Lobbying $22,159,000.

“What these tables show is politics in Wisconsin has become a game almost exclusively for the super rich and the special interests,” says Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “The voice of the average Wisconsin citizen is getting drowned out under this tsunami of big money. And too often, our elected officials view their donors as their constituents – and not the citizens of Wisconsin.”

Table 1. Top 25 Individual Contributors* to All Partisan Legislative and Statewide Candidates January 1995 – December 2019

Contributors City Occupation/Business Partisan
Diane and Kenneth Hendricks Janesville Owners of ABC Supply Co. R $860,227
Lynde Uihlein Milwaukee President of the Brico Fund D $720,975
Elizabeth and Richard Uihlein Lake Forest, IL Owners of Uline Shipping Supplies R $666,050
Chris Abele Milwaukee Milwaukee County executive D $661,489
Doylene and Bob Perry Houston, TX Owners of Perry Homes R $500,000
Patricia and Robert Kern Waukesha Owners of Generac Corp. R $466,880
Patricia and Daniel McKeithan River Hills Owners of Tamarack Petroleum R $376,921
Renee and Jere Fabick Oconomowoc Owners of Fabco Equipment R $368,546
Sandra and Fred Young Racine Owners of Young Radiator R $326,691
Mary and Ted Kellner Mequon Owners of Fiduciary Management R $320,478
LaVonne and Donald Zietlow Onalaska Owners of Kwik Trip R $304,210
Mary and Terry Kohler Sheboygan Owners of Windway Capital R $303,198
Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Las Vegas, NV Owners of the Las Vegas Sands R $290,000
Kathryn and John Burke Fox Point Owners of Burke Properties R $288,200
Suzanne and William Barry Brookfield Owners of Speed Systems R $287,130
David Humphreys Joplin, MO President of TAMKO Building Products R $285,000
Marianne and Sheldon Lubar River Hills Owners of Lubar & Co. D $282,250
Stanley Herzog St. Joseph, MO Owner of Herzog Contracting R $280,000
Michele and Louis Gentine Elkhart Lake Owners of Sargento Cheese R $279,450
Grant and Nancy Ward Hillpoint retired Kailo Fund manager and consultant D $276,420
Helen and Richard DeVos Grand Rapids, MI Owners of Alticor R $276,000
Katherine and John C. Miller Kohler Owners of Miller St. Nazianz D $264,015
Sarah Atkins Joplin, MO Quality consultant for TAMKO Building Products R $260,000
Judith and Gordon Faulkner Madison Owners of Epic Systems D $243,800
Judith Couri and Gerald Couri Waukesha Owners of Couri Insurance Agency R $243,156
Total $9,431,086
$2,448,949 from Democratic leaning contributors and $6,982,137 from Republican leaning contributors.
*‘D’ means predominantly Democratic contributor; ‘R’ means predominantly Republican contributor.

Table 2. Special Interest Group Contributions to All Partisan Legislative and Statewide Candidates January 1995 – December 2019

Group Total
Political/Ideological $45,443,530
Retired/Homemakers/Non-Income Earners $41,347,780
Banking & Finance $23,854,616
Manufacturing & Distributing $23,189,318
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists $22,159,141
Construction $21,062,917
Health Professionals $19,949,814
Labor Unions $19,379,021
Business $17,156,412
Unknown $16,458,918
Real Estate $15,312,945
Tourism/Leisure/Entertainment $12,755,978
Health Service/Institutions $12,614,178
Insurance $10,313,536
Transportation $9,469,302
Agriculture $8,807,445
Education $8,589,724
Natural Resources $8,363,199
Civil Servant/Public Employees $6,841,764
Energy $6,154,625
Telecommunications & Computers $5,466,166
Road Construction $5,268,355
Nonprofit/Social Services $3,555,915
Defense $258,166
TOTAL $363,772,765

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One thought on “Campaign Cash: The State’s Top 25 Fat Cats”

  1. Janet Holzhauer says:

    You may technically be correct in calling Judith Faulkner a ‘fat cat’. She is also a person who has signed the Giving Pledge. Perhaps an asterisk for those ‘fat cats’ would be in order.

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