Key Players and Key Interest Groups

Career Special Interest Contributions to Members of the Joint Finance Committee, 1991-1998

April 17, 1999

The members of the powerful Joint Finance Committee of the Legislature are key players in determining how our tax money is spent in Wisconsin. They decide which state programs will live or die, and how much money will go to them. An important part of fully understanding the positions taken by these legislators is the history of sources and extent of special interest support for them. The following charts and tables summarize the history of special interest contributions to the members of Joint Finance.

A total of $733,778 was given by identified special interests to further the careers of legislators who are now members of Joint Finance. Health professionals, which include doctors, dentists, chiropractors, nurses and podiatrists, are the leading contributors since 1991 (Table 1). Health professionals contributed at least $98,476 since 1991 to the committee members’ campaigns. Three other special interests contributed more than $50,000 to the members during the period. Those groups and the amounts they contributed are: Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists, $78,004; Banking & Finance, $69,815; and Manufacturing & Distributing, $51,813.

This roster of top contributors to the committee members compares closely to special interest contributions to all legislators and legislative candidates during 1997-1998 campaign period. During that period, Health Professionals were the top contributors to all legislative candidates, followed by Banking & Finance, Manufacturing & Distributing, and Construction.

The total amount of contributions to each member of Joint Finance from the top four interest categories is shown in Table 2. Republican Sen. Mary Panzer of West Bend tops the list for two categories: Banking & Finance and Manufacturing & Distributing interests. Appointed in 1993, she is one of the longest-serving members of the Finance Committee. Other committee members who lead in contributions from a special interest are Democratic Senators Russell Decker of Schofield from Health Professionals, and Kimberly Plache of Racine for Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists.

Of the $733,778 contributed to Joint Finance members (Table 3), Sen. Mary Panzer tops the list with a total $117,104, followed by Sen. Kimberly Plache, a newly-appointed committee member who received at least $105,869 in special interest contributions since 1991. Plache, who was elected to the Assembly in 1988, was the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in special interest contributions during a June 1996 recall election that she won, and that gave Democrats control of the Senate. The committee’s co-chairs, Republican Rep. John Gard of Peshtigo, received $57,321, and Democratic Sen. Brian Burke of Milwaukee received $47,423 from special interests.

(The special interest category breakdowns of contributions received by members of the committee are shown here.)

Under the changes in the lobbying law implemented beginning January 1, 1999, lobbyists are required to report bills they are lobbying on within 15 days of beginning to lobby. This makes it possible to track lobbying activity more closely than in the past. Although it is still early in the session, special interests have disclosed that they are pursing hundreds of budget items and other legislative measures.

The top four categories of special interest contributors to the Joint Finance Committee plan to track and lobby dozens of regulatory, tax, fee and labor proposals, among others. They will try to affect those budget proposals through their longstanding relationship with Joint Finance Committee members. The committee, whose fiscal duties are to reject pork, special interest and other unnecessary spending, must distance themselves from those relationships in order to carry out their responsibilities.

For their part, special interests plan to work hard for their constituencies. Health professionals plan to track changes in Medical Assistance spending and reimbursement; lawyers and lobbyists want to keep an eye on a proposal to eliminate certain tax breaks for lobbying expenses; banks and other financial institutions are interested in customer fee and credit plan interest measures; and manufacturing and distributing interests plan to lobby to tax, health care and labor proposals.

Source of Data

The figures used in these profiles are based on the employer-identified individual contributions of $100 or more and PAC contributions from campaign finance reports filed with the state Elections Board and complied by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The totals do not include PAC contributions from 1991-94. For lists of individual and PAC contributors to members of Joint Finance for the 1997-98 campaign period, go here.

Tables

Table 1 Special Interest Group Contributions to Joint Finance Committee
Table 2 Contributions from Top Special Interest Categories
Table 3 Contributions to Members of Joint Finance
Charts: Special Interest Group Contributions to Joint Finance Members

TABLE 1
Special Interest Contributions
To Members of the Joint Finance Committee
1991-1998

INTEREST AMOUNT
Health Professionals $98,476
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists $78,004
Banking & Finance $69,815
Manufacturing & Distributing $51,813
Business $46,946
Construction $44,312
Tourism/Leisure/Entertainment $44,128
Civil servant/public employee $39,506
Road Construction $35,269
Natural Resources $33,894
Insurance $31,438
Retired/Homemakers/Non-income $25,959
Health Services/Institutions $25,470
Real Estate $22,793
Transportation $18,348
Education $15,521
Agriculture $14,620
Energy $13,019
Telecommunications & Computers $9,111
Labor Unions $8,029
Political/Ideological $5,097
Non-Profit/Social Services $2,210
Total $733,778

TABLE 2
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM TOP SPECIAL INTEREST CATEGORIES
TO MEMBERS OF THE JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE

HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

CANDIDATE AMOUNT
Decker $12,100
Gard $11,575
Jauch $10,940
Burke $10,938
Plache $8,295
Shibilski $7,900
Panzer $7,803
Cowles $5,260
Albers $4,110
Moore $3,955
Porter $3,750
Kaufert $3,625
Huber $3,470
Duff $2,475
Riley $1,450
Total $98,476

BANKING & FINANCE

CANDIDATE AMOUNT
Panzer $23,250
Plache $9,550
Moore $6,050
Shibilski $5,420
Kaufert $3,830
Cowles $3,425
Burke $3,260
Ward $3,250
Riley $2,935
Gard $2,650
Duff $1,620
Porter $1,175
Jauch $1,150
Albers $1,100
Decker $1,050
Total $69,815

LAWYERS/LAW FIRMS/LOBBYISTS

CANDIDATE AMOUNT
Plache $20,399
Panzer $12,960
Jauch $8,080
Moore $6,985
Burke $6,275
Shibilski $5,500
Decker $5,080
Gard $2,600
Riley $2,300
Kaufert $2,150
Cowles $2,000
Duff $1,050
Porter $900
Huber $875
Ward $450
Albers $400
Total $78,004

MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTING

CANDIDATE AMOUNT
Panzer $13,050
Porter $5,000
Albers $4,800
Plache $3,751
Shibilski $3,524
Decker $3,145
Burke $2,800
Jauch $2,600
Duff $2,350
Ward $2,350
Cowles $2,131
Moore $2,050
Riley $1,887
Kaufert $1,275
Gard $1,100
Total $51,813

TABLE 3
SPECIAL INTEREST CONTRIBUTIONS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE
1991-1998

COMMITTEE MEMBER YEAR ELECTED JOINT FINANCE
APPOINTMENT
TOTAL
Sen. Mary Panzer (R) - S20 1980 1993 $117,104
Sen. Kimberly Plache (D) - S21 1988 1999 $105,869
Sen. Kevin Shibilski,( D) - S24 1995 1997 $82,475
Rep. John Gard (R) - A89 (Co-Chair) 1987 1997 $57,321
Sen. Brian Burke ( D) - S3 (Co-Chair) 1988 1995 $47,423
Sen. Robert Jauch (D) - S25 1982 1996 $45,510
Sen. Russell Decker (D) - S29 1990 1995 $44,588
Sen. Gwendolynne Moore (D) - S4 1988 1999 $42,096
Sen. Robert Cowles (R) - S2 1982 1993 $39,609
Rep. Sheryl Albers (R) - A50 1991 1997 $35,845
Rep. Antonio Riley (D) - A18 1992 1999 $25,972
Rep. Dean Kaufert (R) - A55 1990 1997 $21,905
Rep. David Ward (R) - A37 1992 1999 $21,432
Rep. Cloyd Porter (R) - A66 1972 1995 to 4-97, 
reappointed 1999
$19,979
Rep. Marc Duff (R) - A98 1988 1999 $17,155
Rep. Gregory Huber (D) - A85 1988 4-93 through 1994,
reappointed 1999 
$9,495
TOTAL $733,778

Press ReleaseCharts: Special Interest Group Contributions to Joint Finance Members