Court Candidate Violates Contribution Limit

Ziegler relative contributed the maximum, and then some

March 5, 2007

Madison - State Supreme Court Candidate Annette Ziegler violated state campaign finance law by accepting more than $10,000 from an individual contributor in an election cycle, according to records reviewed by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Campaign finance reports filed by Ziegler with the State Elections Board show a relative, R. Douglas Ziegler, made contributions to Annette Ziegler of $500 and $6,000 on June 10 and December 7, 2006 and $4,000 on January 5, 2007. Her reports show she did not return the illegal excess to the donor.

State campaign finance laws prohibit a candidate for statewide office from accepting more than $10,000 from an individual in an election cycle. Ziegler’s current election cycle began July 1, 2004 after she was reelected Washington County circuit judge and ends June 30, 2007, according to state law.

State campaign finance laws call for civil fines of up to $500 per violation for candidates who accept more money than a contributor is allowed to give them. The penalties are much stiffer for contributors who violate the contribution limit – a $500 fine plus triple the amount of the contribution that exceeds the $10,000 limit. That means R. Douglas Ziegler, who is retired chairman of the family-owned Ziegler Companies which owns numerous subsidiaries mostly engaged in financing, could face up to $2,000 in penalties.

A review of contributions to Madison attorney Linda Clifford, Ziegler’s opponent in the race, found no contributors who gave her more than $10,000.

WDC’s review covered all contributions accepted by the candidates through February 5, 2007 – the most recent campaign finance reports available.

The candidates can give or loan as much as they want to their own campaigns. Clifford and Ziegler have each loaned their campaigns $150,000.