Lawmakers Spend More Time Fund Raising
Than Working on State Budget
September 23, 1999
Madison - Democratic and Republican legislators scheduled events this summer and fall to get Wisconsin residents to part with some of their money. One is pitching airplane rides, several others hosted golf outings, two of them went on the road with a comedian, one group organized a zoo tour and the others threw theme parties ranging from a pig roast in a park to a reception at a yacht club. (See table below.)
These events were among the nearly four dozen fund raisers scheduled around the state by Democratic and Republican legislators between June and the middle of October. Meanwhile, work on the proposed 1999-2001 state budget languished. To date, the new budget remains in limbo 85 days beyond its July 1 due date.
The lack of a new budget three months into the 1999-2001 biennium has now begun to concern local governments and school districts that depend on state aid payments to function. Legislative inaction on a new budget also threatens Wisconsin’s eligibility for millions in federal aid.
"The fact that legislators are fund raising at any point during budget consideration is a problem because it gives the appearance that special interests are contributing to influence the policy and funding decisions that affect all of us," said Gail Shea, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
"However, we find it particularly troublesome that legislative leaders and their colleagues have held many more fund raisers than they have meetings on a budget that has been past-due for months. Reaching a consensus on a piece of legislation that affects everyone they represent should be their only priority during this time. Hobnobbing with campaign contributors makes it look like these are the only people on their radar screens," Shea said.
From June through mid-October, legislative leaders, lawmakers and the state Republican Party have held or scheduled at least 47 fund raisers - or one every three days. The bulk of the events - 35 - were scheduled by Republicans, including 26 by Assembly GOP lawmakers, eight by Senate Republicans and one by the state Republican Party. The remaining 12 fund raisers were scheduled by seven Assembly Democrats and five Senate Democrats.
Slightly more than half of the events did not have a "suggested" or minimum contribution for attendants. However 23 had "suggested" or minimum contributions that ranged from $25 to $500 per person.
Most of the fund raisers were in the form of receptions and theme picnics or cookouts, like Republican Rep. Bonnie Ladwig’s "Western Roundup" fund raiser scheduled July 28, or the backyard barbecues scheduled by Democratic Rep. David Cullen of Milwaukee on June 28 and Republican Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti of Oconomowoc on Aug. 29 .
Some of the fund raisers were more organized, formal or expensive to attend.
Four legislators - Rep. Luther Olsen, R-Berlin; Rep. Lee Meyerhofer, D-Kaukauna; Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau; and Welch - scheduled golf outings, as did the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and the state Republican Party. The suggested contributions to the candidates at some of the events ranged from $40 to $500 per person, in addition to greens fees and dinner.
Other events that asked for a contribution of $100 or more per person included a reception at the Milwaukee Yacht Club for Republican Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills on June 21; a fund raiser for Republican Rep. Mike Huebsch of La Crosse at the Red Circle Inn in Nashotah on June 2; and a reception and tour of the Milwaukee County Zoo sponsored by the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate on Sept. 16.
"We think it is more appropriate for these legislators to pressure their leadership to find a solution to the budget impasse, rather than organize events to raise money to advance their own political careers," Shea said.
|June 2||Rep. Mike Huebsch||R-La Crosse||Red Circle Inn, Nashotah||$100|
|June 6||Sen. Alice Clausing||D- Menomonie||Olde Towne Conference Center, Menomonie|
|June 7||Rep. Kitty Rhoades||R-Hudson||Old Toll Bridge Docks, Hudson|
|June 7||Sen. Scott Fitzgerald||R-Juneau||6th Annual Golf Outing, Watertown Country Club||$40-$75|
|June 14||Rep. Dan Schooff||D-Beloit||2nd Annual Dan Schooff Snappers fund raiser||$25|
|June 14||Sen. Brian Burke (Joint Finance co-chair)||D-Milwaukee||Tres Hermanos, Milwaukee|
|June 18||Sen. Dale Schultz||R-Richland Center||Culver’s Headquarters, Prairie du Sac|
|June 21||Rep. Dave Hutchinson||R-Dykesville||Breakfast fund raiser, Leathem Smith Lodge, Sturgeon Bay||$25|
|June 21||Sen. Alberta Darling||R-River Hills||Milwaukee Yacht Club||$100|
|June 21||Rep. Jeff Plale||D-South Milwaukee||Pig roast at Miller Park, Oak Creek|
|June 28||Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen||R-Waukesha||Mequon||$50-$125|
|June 28||Rep.David Cullen||D-Milwaukee||Backyard barbecue, Milwaukee|
|July 28||Rep. Bonnie Ladwig||R-Racine||Western Roundup fund raiser, Caledonia||$25|
|July 29||Sen. Gary Drzewiecki||R-Pulaski||6th Annual Picnic, Pamperin Park, Green Bay|
Rep. Sheryl Albers
Rep. Joan Spillner
|Comedian Roger Radley, Mexicali Rose, Wisconsin Dells|
|Aug. 2||Rep. John La Fave||D-Milwaukee||2nd Annual Family Fun Day, Brown Deer Village Park|
|Aug. 3||Republican Assembly Campaign Committee||NA||Trappers Turn Golf Course, Wisconsin Dells||$100|
|Aug. 3||Rep. Carol Owens||R-Oshkosh||Corn roast and birthday bash, Rosendale|
|Aug. 11||Rep. Marc Duff||R-New Berlin||New Berlin Lanes|
|Aug. 15||Rep. Robert Goetsch||R-Juneau||Annual park picnic, Beaver Dam|
|Aug. 17||Rep. Luther Olsen||R-Berlin||4th Annual Olsen Open and Steak Fry, Berlin||$100|
Rep. Sheryl Albers
Rep. Joan Spillner
|Comedian Roger Radley, 1660 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee|
|Aug. 18||Senate Majority Leader Charles Chvala||D-Madison||14th Annual Summer Bash, Winnequah Park, Monona|
|Aug. 24||Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen||R-Waukesha||Speaker’s Club briefing, University Club, Milwaukee|
|Aug. 26||Sen. Gary Drzewiecki||R-Pulaski||1st Annual Marinette Park Picnic|
|Aug. 29||Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti||R-Oconomowoc||Backyard barbecue|
|Aug. 31||Rep. Mark Pettis||R-Hertel||Dalles House, St. Croix Falls||$50|
|Sept. 2||Rep. Gregg Underheim||R-Oshkosh||1999 Oshkosh Golf outing, Westhaven Golf Club, Oshkosh|
|Sept. 2||Sen. Kevin Shibilski||D-Stevens Point||Milwaukee Metropolitan Assn. Of Commerce|
|Sept. 10||Republican Assembly Campaign Committee||NA||Door County Fish Boil, Bailey’s Harbor||$35-$50|
|Sept. 10||Rep. Steve Nass||R-Whitewater||Fish boil, Rushing Waters Trout Farm, Palmyra||$25-$40|
|Sept. 11||Rep. Lee Meyerhofer||D-Kaukauna||Golf outing, Mid-Valee Golf Course|
|Sept. 13||Rep. Mark Pettis||R-Hertel||Grantsburg|
|Sept. 13||Sen. Gwen Moore||D-Milwaukee||Louisiana Jamboree, The Savoy, Milwaukee||$35|
|Sept. 14||Rep. Mark Pettis||R-Hertel||Osceola||$25|
|Sept. 14||Sen. Bob Welch||R-Redgranite||Milwaukee Athletic Club|
|Sept. 16||Committee to Elect a Republican Senate||NA||Milwaukee County Zoo Reception and Tour||$150|
|Sept. 19||Rep. John Ainsworth||R-Shawano||59th Birthday Fundraiser, Arlington Park, Shawano|
|Sept. 20||Sen. Bob Welch||R-Redgranite||Welch Fall Classic Golf Outing, Fox Fire Golf Club, Waupaca|
|Sept. 20||Rep. Julie Lassa||D-Plover||First Annual Fish Boil, Iverson Park, Stevens Point|
|Sept. 27||Republican Assembly Campaign Committee||NA||Reception, Megaan’s Restaurant and Pub, Lake Mills||$100|
|Sept. 28||State Republican Party||NA||Chenequa Country Club, Chenequa||$500|
|Oct. 1||Rep. Joseph Leibham||R-Sheboygan||Airplane rides and reception, Sheboygan County Airport||$25|
|Oct. 4||Rep. Dan Vrakas||R-Hartland||Home of lobbyist and former Administration Secretary James Klauser||$50|
|Oct. 7||Rep. Scott Walker||R-Wauwatosa||Wauwatosa|
|Oct. 18||Assembly Minority Leader Shirley Krug||D-Milwaukee||Sequels, Milwaukee|
|Oct. 20||Republican Assembly Campaign Committee||NA||Whitehorse Inn, Madison||$100|
Source: Quarles & Brady Fundraiser Lists