Business Group That Backs New Arena Contributed Generously To Walker, Group

January 28, 2015

An influential Milwaukee business group that strongly supports a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks has contributed about $1.3 million to an electioneering group that helped Republican Governor Scott Walker win three elections to remain in office.

In addition, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s political action committee has contributed $25,500 to Walker since 2010.

On Tuesday, the governor announced a plan at the business group’s offices to provide up to $220 million in state bonding to help pay for a new downtown Milwaukee multipurpose arena. Walker said debt payments on the bonding would be covered by income taxes paid by the Milwaukee Bucks and visiting NBA teams. This is often referred to as a “jock tax.”

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has contributed $1.3 million since 2010 to the Republican Governors Association , a Washington, D.C., organization that raises unlimited cash from powerful business interests and trade organizations to support Republican candidates for governor nationwide. The governors' group has spent at least $18.4 million in Wisconsin’s 2012 recall and the 2010 and 2014 general elections on behalf of Walker.

Since 2010, the Milwaukee business group has also contributed $105,000 to 527 organizations run by the Republican State Leadership Committee , which sponsors electioneering activities to help elect GOP legislators, and a total of $50,000 to three groups that support Democratic candidates for state offices: the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund , Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association .

Walker’s arena plan will be included in his proposed 2015-17 state budget. The new arena is expected to cost between $400 million and $500 million. The current Bucks’ owners and former team owner Herb Kohl have pledged a total of $250 million.