61 Deep Pockets Give 11% of State Campaign Cash

State’s Leading Democrat Boasts Most Fat Cat Donors; Seven Top Givers Exceed Legal Contribution Limit

April 9, 2001

Madison - About five dozen individuals and families representing four-tenths of 1 percent of donors made 11 percent of the total large individual campaign contributions to legislative candidates and statewide officeholders in 1999-2000, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported today.

Leading the way in collecting money from donors who gave $10,000 or more was Attorney General James Doyle, who along with Governor Scott McCallum ratcheted up their fund-raising machines for the race for the governor’s office in 2002. Doyle received $221,532 from these wealthy contributors (Table 1), followed by former Governor Tommy Thompson who received $110,950 and McCallum who received $78,499.

Seven fat-cat donors, including Chicago Blackhawks hockey team owner and liquor wholesaler William Wirtz, violated campaign finance laws by contributing more than $10,000 in a single year or to a single candidate, according to campaign finance records filed with the state Elections Board (Table 2). Five of them contributed several thousand dollars to Doyle, one made all of his contributions to Thompson and another contributed to 14 Assembly and Senate Republican candidates.

Topping the list is Jim Thompson of Wegner & Associates in Madison who contributed a total of $11,750 in 2000, including $5,000 to Doyle and $6,750 to 13 Democratic Senate and Assembly candidates.

In all, 61 families and individuals contributed $10,000 or more during the 1999-2000 election cycle (Table 3). They represent four-tenths of 1 percent of the 16,938 individuals or families that made large contributions ($100 or more). Their contributions totaled $894,829, which was 11 percent of the $8.4 million in total large individual contributions.

Total contributions from these well-heeled donors averaged $14,669 in 1999-2000. By comparison, total contributions from the remaining large contributors averaged $444. The $894,829 contributed by the 61 families was equal to 35 percent of the $2.55 million in total small contributions (under $100). The average small contribution is $25.

“The way our elections are being financed is profoundly undemocratic,” WDC executive director Mike McCabe said. “Tremendous damage is done to the democratic ideal of one person, one vote when just 61 households in a state of over five million people play such a disproportionate role in paying for campaigns. Your average citizen will never have the access or influence that the handful of big donors who are giving the serious money enjoy. The sad truth is that $10,000 gets you a lot more clout than one vote or one $25 check."

Four of the top five fat-cat contributors were owners of construction companies, which are one of the most influential and generous special interests that lobby the State Capitol. Overall, a total of 12 - one in five - contributors who gave $10,000 or more were involved in the building or road construction industries.

The largest contributors were Robert, Thomas D. and Thomas J. Baker and their families, who are executives with CD Smith Construction Co. in Fond du Lac. They contributed $35,094, most of it to former Gov. Thompson and others on March 26, 1999, only two weeks after receiving a $29.5 million no-bid prison building contract by the State Building Commission then chaired by Thompson. In addition to the Bakers, Gary M. Smith, another CD Smith executive, and his wife contributed $13,775 in 1999-2000, much of it in March 1999.

Thirteen members of the Zignego family, which owns the Zignego Co. in Waukesha, made 96 contributions totaling $26,400. Though members of the construction industry, they primarily support pro-life candidates. Unlike previous election cycles when the family gave to candidates in their own legislative districts, the Zignegos contributed thousands of dollars to legislative candidates throughout the state in the 2000 elections.

The Cullen family, owners of JP Cullen & Sons, a Janesville construction company, contributed $25,850 to mostly Republican candidates in 1999-2000. The Cullens had been one of Gov. Thompson’s largest contributors and the family owned company was awarded more than $98 million in major state construction projects between 1991 and 1999.

The largest individual contributor in 1999-2000 was Jim Thompson at $16,830. He was followed closely by Darshan Dhaliwal, a Milwaukee-area gasoline station owner, who contributed $16,400 during the two years.

Follow these links for a more detailed look at the sources and amounts of campaign contributions to Doyle and McCallum.

TABLE 1
TOP RECIPIENTS OF 'FAT CAT' CONTRIBUTIONS

CANDIDATE OFFICE PARTY AMOUNT
Doyle, Jim Attorney General D $221,532
Thompson, Tommy G Governor R $110,950
McCallum, Scott Governor/Lt Governor R $78,499
Kapanke, Dan SD 32 (open seat - loser) R $27,050
Harsdorf, Sheila SD 10 (challenger - winner) R $26,280
Jensen, Scott R AD 32 - Assembly Speaker R $18,977
Drzewiecki, Gary SD 30 (incumbent - loser) R $18,459
Chvala, Chuck SD 16 - Senate Majority Leader D $18,400
Nelson, Lisa B. SD 16 (challenger - loser) R $17,500
Darling, Alberta SD 8 (incumbent - winner) R $17,150
Lazich, Mary SD 28 (incumbent - winner) R $16,450
Hansen, Dave SD 30 (challenger - winner) D $14,150
Panzer, Mary SD 20 - Senate Minority Leader R $13,400
Meyer, Mark SD 32 (open seat - winner) D $12,625
George, Gary SD 6 (unopposed) D $11,650
Duecker, Dave SD 22 (challenger - loser) R $10,950
Roessler, Carol SD 18 (incumbent - winner) R $10,325

TABLE 2
CONTRIBUTORS WHO EXCEEDED CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

CONTRIBUTOR CITY BUSINESS AMOUNT PROBLEM
Thompson, James C Madison Wegner & Associates $11,750 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000:
-$5,000 to Doyle,
-$1,000 to Sen. Hansen,
-$5,750 to 12 Assembly Democratic candidates.
Weinstein, Frances Madison Housewife
(General Beverage)
$11,250 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000:
-$7,500 to Doyle,
-$3,250 to Sens. Hansen, Chvala and the SSDC,
-$500 to Reps. Riley, Waukau and the ADCC.
Weinstein, I Bernard Englewood, NJ Daniel Weinstein Associates $11,250 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000, contributions same as Frances Weinstein.
Minkoff, Joel Madison General Beverage $10,875 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000:
-$7,500 to Doyle,
-$3,250 to Sens. Hansen, Chvala and the SSDC,
-$125 to Rep. Waukau.
Dahlberg, James Madison UW Professor $10,500 Exceeded $10,000 campaign limit to a candidate by contributing $10,500 to Doyle.
Wirtz, William R Chicago, IL Wirtz Corp $10,500 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000 and campaign limit to a candidate by contributing $10,500 to Thompson.
Ziegler, Margaret West Bend Housewife
(Ziegler/Limbach Co)
$10,425 Exceeded $10,000 limit for 2000 by contributing $8,475 to nine GOP Senate candidates and $1,950 to five GOP Assembly candidates.

TABLE 3
Contributors of $10,000 or More in Contributions of $100 or More
1999-2000

CONTRIBUTOR CITY STATE BUSINESS TOTAL Number
of Contributors
Baker Family Fond du Lac WI CD Smith Construction $35,094 21
Zignego Family Waukesha WI Zignego Co $26,400 96
Cullen Family Janesville WI JP Cullen & Sons $25,850 72
Bader, Daniel & Linda Milwaukee WI Bader Foundation/Social Worker $23,650 14
Mathy Family La Crosse WI Mathy Construction $22,900 49
Paul, Judi & Terrance Madison WI Advantage Learning System $22,700 11
Kohler, Mary & Terry Sheboygan WI Windway Capital $22,350 38
Broydrick Family Delafield WI Broydrick & Associates $21,050 77
Thompson, Lea Ann & Jim Madison WI Beautiful Control Cosmetics/Wegner & Assoc $20,660 23
Ziegler Family West Bend WI BC Ziegler Co $20,425 51
Abele, Dacy & Chris Milwaukee WI Steri Logic Waste Systems $20,000 2
Dhaliwal, Darshan & Debra Mequon WI Bulk Petroleum $19,400 22
Sadoff Family Fond du Lac WI Badger Liquor $19,346 27
Samson Family Milwaukee WI Liberty Bank $17,035 21
Bechthold Family Delafield WI Payne & Dolan $16,777 101
Kraemer Family Plain WI Kraemer Brothers Construction $16,250 25
Michels Family Brownsville WI Michels Pipeline Construction $15,800 43
Murphy, Ann & Patrick Green Bay WI Murphy Development $15,359 21
Garton, Joseph & Deirdre Wilson Madison WI Quiveys Grove/Attorney $15,200 13
Kennedy Family Janesville WI Rock Road Companies $14,606 71
Rosenberg, Jack & Lucille Glicklich Milwaukee WI Telecheck Wisconsin/Psychiatrist $14,500 20
Kraemer Family Maple Bluff WI Edward Kraemer & Sons Construction $14,475 53
OToole, Robert & Ruth Collopy River Hills WI AO Smith Corp $14,425 39
Hanson, Thomas & Lois Madison WI Hanson Service Corp $14,190 67
Smith, Gary M & Janet Fond du Lac WI CD Smith Construction $13,775 9
Gellatt Family La Crosse WI Northern Engraving/Northern Micrographics $13,750 28
Heller, James & Avis River Hills WI Data Exchange Corp $13,450 20
Hastings, Frank C & Dawn Madison WI JH Findorff & Son $13,450 11
McKeithan, Daniel & Patricia Milwaukee WI Tamarack Petroleum Co/Miller Brewing $13,400 35
Zeppos, Evan & Adina Milwaukee WI Zeppos Public Relations $12,998 54
Ahern Family Fond du Lac WI JF Ahern Co $12,875 31
Weinstein, Frances Middleton WI Housewife (General Beverage) $12,550 14
Weinstein, I Bernard Englewood NJ Daniel Weinstein Associates $12,550 14
Fitzsimonds, Roger L & Leona River Hills WI Firstar Bank $12,410 43
Jones, Allan & Janis Cleveland TN Check into Cash Inc $12,400 42
Marcus Family Milwaukee WI Marcus Corp $11,950 50
Taylor, Don L & Carol Waukesha WI Waukesha State Bank $11,895 53
Knox Family Jefferson WI WD Hoard & Sons/Riverside Consulting $11,530 46
Brogan, John & Gisela Green Bay WI Wisconsin Converting Co $11,500 4
Wigdale, James & Elizabeth Milwaukee WI M&I Bank $11,450 33
Mann Family Elkhorn WI Mann Brothers Construction $11,450 52
Essie, Patrick & Mara Madison WI Essie Public Affairs $11,425 33
Talley, J Ernest Plano TX Renters Choice $11,300 16
Darrow Family West Bend WI Russ Darrow Group $11,284 27
Noel Family Stevens Point WI Noel Group $11,250 5
Kuester, Dennis & Sandra S Mequon WI M&I Bank $11,225 44
Johnson Family Racine WI Johnson Wax $11,050 19
Mitchell, George & Susan Whitefish Bay WI Mitchell Group $11,000 62
Minkoff, Joel Madison WI General Beverage $10,875 7
Uihlein Family Milwaukee WI U-Line Corp $10,750 29
Dahlberg, James Madison WI University of Wisconsin Professor $10,650 5
Habush, Robert Milwaukee WI Habush, Habush, et al $10,600 21
Hanson, David & Linda Bochert Madison WI Michael, Best & Friedrich $10,550 9
Cornellier Family Beloit WI Cornellier Fireworks $10,545 88
Wirtz, William R Chicago IL Wirtz Corp $10,500 3
Ames, Steve & Debbie Wesley Chapel FL No Employer Listed $10,000 2
Walsh, David Madison WI Foley & Lardner $10,000 3
Ocepek, Anthony S Palm Beach FL OmniAmerica $10,000 1
Cohen, Bliss Appleton WI Kimberly Clark Corp $10,000 1
Doyle, Ruth Madison WI Retired $10,000 2
Huelsman, Joanne & A William Waukesha WI Legislator/Berg Management $10,000 11
Total Contributions: $894,829