Legislative Candidates Awash in Outside Money

Nearly $2 Of Every $3 Not From Constitutents

October 27, 2000

Madison - About $2 of every $3 in large individual contributions accepted by legislative candidates through Aug. 28 came from outside of their districts, compounding the impact of special interests who are rifling out big money donations at a record pace, according to a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis released today.

A review of total fundraising for the Senate election cycle (beginning Jan. 1, 1997) and the Assembly election cycle (beginning Jan.1, 1999) through the Aug. 28, 2000 preprimary reporting period, which are the latest figures available, showed that legislative candidates raised $3.1 million from large, individual contributors (those who give $100 or more in a year). Nearly $2 million, or 64 percent, of those contributions came from outside of the candidates’ districts.

Figures for the entire 1998 election showed that legislative candidates raised about $3.1 million in large individual contributions with a similar two-thirds coming from outside of their districts.

Senate and Assembly candidates who received the most in out-of-district contributions were legislative leaders who control the fate of legislation that could help or hurt special interests, incumbents or candidates in targeted races or open seats whose winners could determine the majority party in each house. (Tables 1 & 2)

Senate candidates who received the most out-of-district contributions through Aug. 28 were Democratic Sen. Alice Clausing of Menomonie, $131,404; Democratic Majority Leader Charles Chvala of Madison, $86,738; and Republican Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills, $64,235. (See Table 1)

Assembly candidates who received the most out-of-district contributions were Republican Speaker Scott Jensen of Waukesha, who is a probable candidate for governor in two years, $233,973; Democratic Minority Leader Shirley Krug of Milwaukee, $58,725; and Republican Majority Leader Steven Foti of Oconomowoc, $48,575. (See Table 2)

"It’s amazing that candidates already had raised as much money by the end of the campaign preseason as they did during the entire 1998 election cycle, because the last two months before the election have always been the busiest fundraising months. There’s no question the 2000 elections will shatter legislative fundraising and campaign spending records," WDC executive director Mike McCabe said.

"Candidates can’t raise this kind of money just from friends and neighbors. They have to turn to the special interests outside their districts. That leaves them owing more to these cash constituents than they owe their voting constituents," McCabe said.

Other key findings in the WDC analysis showed:

  • Assembly incumbents raised more than $1.4 million of the total $1.7 million in large individual contributions collected by all Assembly candidates - incumbents, challengers and open seat candidates - through Aug. 28. Large out-of-district contributions to Assembly incumbents accounted for $930,769 or 65 percent of their total.
  • Sixty-two of the 154 Assembly candidates received 66 percent or more of their contributions from outside of their districts. Forty of those candidates received 75 percent or more of their money in large out-of-district contributions.
  • Fund-raising by Assembly Republican candidates tripled that of Democratic candidates - more than $1.2 million versus $470,768. Sixty-one percent of the Republicans’ large contributions came from outside of their districts, compared to 69 percent for Democrats.
  • Senate incumbents raised about $1.1 million of the total $1.4 million in large individual contributions to all Senate candidates through Aug. 28. Large out-of-district contributions accounted for $714,890, or 65 percent of their total. Overall, large out-of-district contributions accounted for $876,170, or 64 percent of the $1.4 million in contributions to all Senate candidates.
  • Fourteen of the 26 Senate candidates received 66 percent or more of their contributions from outside of their districts. Ten of those candidates received 75 percent or more of their money in large out-of-district contributions.
  • Senate Democratic candidates received more large individual contributions than Republican candidates through Aug. 28 - $710,579 versus $648,245. However, 77 percent of the Senate Democrats’ take came from outside of their districts, versus 51 percent for Senate Republicans.

Follow the links below for a complete list of the legislative candidates with their in-district and out-of-district large contributions.

Table 1: Top Senate RecipientsTable 2: Top Assembly Recipients

Additional Tables

Senate Candidates by DistrictSenate Candidates by Name
Assembly Candidates by DistrictAssembly Candidates by Name

TABLE 1
TOP SENATE CANDIDATE RECIPIENTS
OF OUT-OF-DISTRICT CONTRIBUTIONS
Jan. 1, 1997 - Aug. 28, 2000

Office Candidate Party Status Out-of-District
Total
Out-Of-District
Percentage
Total
Contributions*
S10 Clausing, Alice D I $131,404 89% $147,019
S16 Chvala, Chuck D I $86,738 82% $105,986
S08 Darling, Alberta R I $64,235 38% $167,965
S30 Drzewiecki, Gary R I $61,535 70% $87,457
S14 Welch, Robert R I $58,494 63% $93,164
S24 Shibilski, Kevin D I $57,162 59% $96,162
S06 George, Gary D I $53,725 93% $57,525
S32 Meyer, Mark** D O $51,316 75% $68,590
S30 Hansen, Dave D C $49,075 92% $53,393
S12 Breske, Roger D I $46,272 71% $65,532

Key for Status: I = Incumbent, C = Challenger, and O = Open Seat

* Represents total large individual contributions
**Excludes Representative Meyer’s 1998 Assembly campaign.

TABLE 2
TOP ASSEMBLY CANDIDATE RECIPIENTS
OF OUT-OF-DISTRICT CONTRIBUTIONS
Jan. 1, 1999 - Aug. 28, 2000

Office Candidate Party Status Out-of-District
Total
Out-Of-District
Percentage
Total
Contributions*
A32 Jensen, Scott R. R I $233,973 96% $242,575
A12 Krug, Shirley D I $58,725 99% $59,525
A38 Foti, Steven R I $48,575 72% $67,625
A18 Riley, Antonio D I $46,650 99% $47,150
A86 Petrowski, Jerry R I $24,084 52% $46,351
A84 Gundrum, Mark R I $23,258 78% $29,658
A60 Hoven, Timothy R I $22,735 62% $36,525
A89 Gard, John R I $22,369 92% $24,294
A79 Skindrud, Rick R I $20,364 57% $35,940
A54 Underheim, Gregg R I $19,691 74% $26,645

Key for Status: I = Incumbent, C = Challenger, and O = Open Seat

* Represents total large individual contributions