Parties, Legislative Fundraising Committees Accept $1.3M in Corporate Contributions

March 22, 2017

Breifcase of Full of Cash

The state Democratic and Republican parties and four legislative fundraising committees accepted about $1.3 million in corporate contributions in 2016. The contributions from corporate, union, trade association, and tribal treasuries were allowed for the first time last year under sweeping changes to state campaign finance laws by the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The new laws approved in late 2015 allow corporate contributions of up to $12,000 a year to each party and legislative campaign committee if they create a segregated fund for the money. The law prohibits corporate contributions from being subsequently used for direct contributions to candidates or for express advocacy in a political campaign.

The parties, committees and the amount of corporate contributions they collected last year were:

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $404,050

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $362,500

Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $232,920

State Senate Democratic Committee, $138,650

Democratic Party of Wisconsin, $107,000

Republican Party of Wisconsin, $60,600

Rounded and combined, that’s $827,000 for Republicans and $479,000 for Democrats.

About 200 businesses, trade groups, unions and tribes made the corporate contributions. The businesses and trade groups spanned a wide array of special interests, including utilities, health care providers, insurers, labor, check-cashing outfits, large farms, beer and alcohol distributors, and big-box retailers.

Topping the list of corporate contributors was:

Wisconsin Progress, a group that recruits and trains Democratic candidates to run for state and local offices, contributed a total of $97,340 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee’s segregated fund for corporate contributions. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed complaints on March 21 against the committee and the group with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission to investigate because the contributions appear to exceed the $12,000 legal limit;

Ho-Chunk Nation, which doled out a total of $53,000 to the four Democratic and GOP legislative campaign committees and the state Democratic Party;

Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance, which is affiliated with the Wisconsin Realtors Association and contributed a total of $52,500 to the four legislative campaign committees and both parties;

MillerCoors, which contributed a total of $50,000 to the two state parties, the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, and the two Republican legislative campaign committees.

The following table shows corporate contributions that totaled $10,000 or more to the legislative campaign committees and two state parties.

2016 Corporate Contributions to the
State Parties and Legislative Campaign Committees

Name Amount
Wisconsin Progress Action $97,340
Ho-Chunk National Tribal Operations Account $53,000
Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance $52,500
MillerCoors $50,000
Forest County Potawatomi Community $43,000
ABC - Associated Builders & Contractors of Wisconsin $36,000
WBD Corporate - Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association $36,000
WEC Energy Group $36,000
Wisconsin Education Association Council $36,000
Altria Client Services $34,000
Alliance of Health Insurers UA $30,000
American Transmission Co. $24,000
Building Industry Council $24,000
MMAC - Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce $24,000
WI State Council of Carpenters $24,000
Agents Assistance Corp. of Wisconsin $23,000
Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin $20,000
PLS Financial Services aka Payday Loan Store $19,000
Wisconsin Power & Light - Alliant Energy $18,000
Kwik Trip $17,250
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin $17,000
Advance America $16,000
Operating Engineers 139 $16,000
Wysocki Produce Farm $16,000
Michael Best & Friedrich $15,000
UnitedHealth Group $13,500
Tavern League of Wisconsin $13,000
State Farm Agent & Associate Conduit $12,100
AFSCME - Wisconsin State Employee Union $12,000
American Federation of Teachers AFT Solidarity $12,000
DLCC - Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee $12,000
InPro Corp. $12,000
Select Management Resources $12,000
Walgreens $12,000
Walmart $12,000
WI Laborers District Council $12,000
Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association $10,500
Anheuser Busch $10,000
Couri Insurance Agency $10,000
K-12 Management $10,000