GOP Gets 69% of Corporate Cash for Legislative Races
$1.6 million donated in 2020, just below record set in 2018.
The state Democratic and Republican parties and four legislative fundraising committees accepted $1.6 million in corporate contributions in 2020, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign preliminary review found.
The state GOP and the two Republican legislative fundraising committees accepted $1.1 million in corporate contributions, or 69 percent of the total. The state Democratic Party and the two Democratic legislative campaign committees accepted $497,750, or 31 percent, of the corporate contributions.
The parties and committees and the amount of corporate contributions they collected in 2020 were:
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $539,250,
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $480,350,
Democratic Party of Wisconsin, $218,000,
Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $186,750,
State Senate Democratic Committee, $93,000,
Republican Party of Wisconsin, $90,135.
The corporate contributions came from business, union, and trade associations representing a wide array of special interests, including insurance, health care, real estate, tourism, business, manufacturing, energy, construction, and telecommunications. The top corporate contributors to the parties and committees in 2020 were:
Charter Communications, St. Louis, MO, $56,000, including $12,000 to each of the four legislative campaign committees and $4,000 to each of the state parties.
MolsonCoors, Milwaukee, WI, $51,000, including $24,000 to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $12,000 each to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate and the state Democratic Party, and $3,000 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, Madison, WI, $39,000, including $27,000 to the four legislative campaign committees and $12,000 to the state Republican Party.
Wisconsin Realtors Association, Madison, WI, $38,500, including $12,000 each to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, and the state GOP, and $2,500 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Madison, WI, $36,500, including $12,500 to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate and $12,000 each to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and the state Republican Party.
Corporate contributions have been legal since 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.
State campaign finance laws now allow corporate contributions of up to $12,000 a year to each party and legislative campaign committee with segregated funds for the money. The law prohibits the parties and committees from using corporate contributions for direct contributions to candidates or for express advocacy in a political campaign.
At $1.6 million, corporation contributions in 2020 were the second highest yet.
Corporate contributions in previous years totaled:
$1.13 million in 2019,
$1.68 million in 2018,
$1.03 million in 2017,
$1.31 million in 2016.