Wisconsin Cash to 527 Groups Topped $600K in ’05
Support to democratic shadow groups up over past non-election years
March 23, 2006
Madison - Wisconsin contributions to unregulated national groups that can accept and spend unlimited amounts to influence elections set a record for a non-election year, topping $600,000 in 2005 as contributors ramped up their donations to groups that support Democrats, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.
A WDC review of Wisconsin contributions to 527 groups, which are named after the Internal Revenue Service laws that govern them, shows 220 Wisconsin individuals, corporations and labor unions gave $610,661 to 23 groups in 2005. That total is 6 percent higher than the $577,413 in 2003 and 11 percent higher than the $551,988 in 2001 to 527 groups from Wisconsin contributors. These groups were not required to file financial disclosure statements until August 2000.
527 groups use unregulated contributions, or soft money, to fund negative broadcast advertising and mailings and voter registration drives. For instance, they can accept millions of dollars in contributions from large corporations, which cannot legally contribute directly to candidates in Wisconsin, to pay for election activities. Some of the more well-known 527 groups from recent years include America Coming Together, MoveOn.org, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Club for Growth.
Key findings in the WDC analysis include:
The flip in support coincides with the sagging public opinion polls for President Bush and the Republican-led Congress over their handling of foreign and domestic issues.
- Wisconsin contributions to Democratic-leaning 527s led contributions to GOP-leaning 527s, unlike contributions in 2003 and 2001. Democratic-leaning 527s accepted $341,375, or 56 percent, of total Wisconsin contributions in 2005. In 2003, Republican-leaning 527s collected $377,186, or 65 percent, of the contributions from Wisconsin, and in 2001, Republican 527s accepted $321,447, or 58 percent, of state contributions.
The Club for Growth, which supports Republicans, collected $94,950. Most of their contributions came from four donors – $25,000 from retired Racine businessman Fred Young and $10,000 each from Wausau paper company executive San Orr, Milwaukee school voucher advocate George Mitchell and conservative Sheboygan businessman Terry Kohler.
- Leading the list of 527s that received Wisconsin contributions (Table 1) was the Democratic Governors Association which accepted $194,000 from 12 contributors in 2005. The group’s Wisconsin benefactors included longtime Democratic supporter Daniel Bader of Milwaukee and Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha who contributed $50,000 each. Troha and his family are Democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s leading contributors. Troha has partnered with the Menominee and Mohegan Indian tribes to build a controversial $800 million casino in Kenosha. The controversial project needs federal government approval, and then Doyle’s blessing. Three Wisconsin tribes – the Oneida, St. Croix and the Stockbridge Munsee – contributed another $28,000 to the Democratic Governors Association.
- Thirty-seven Wisconsin contributors doled out $2,000 or more to 527 groups in 2005 (Table 2). Twenty-three contributions came from people and 14 came from businesses, unions, tribes or other special interest groups. Topping the list was the Wisconsin Laborers District Council which sent $83,946 to its Washington-based 527, the Laborers Political League Education Fund. Next were Bader and Troha at $50,000, followed by Terry and Mary Kohler who contributed $10,000 to the Club for Growth and $35,000 to GOPAC.
|Democratic Governors Association||$194,000|
|Club for Growth||$94,950|
|Laborers Political League Education Fund||$83,946|
|IBEW Educational Committee*||$42,555|
|College Republican National Committee||$42,246|
|Republican Governors Association||$26,425|
|Republican State Leadership Committee||$17,535|
|Ironworkers Political Education Fund||$10,314|
|National Federation of Republican Women||$8,600|
|Property Casualty Insurers Political Account||$7,705|
|Democratic Attorneys General Association||$5,000|
|National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos. Administrative Fund||$4,499|
|Emily’s List Non-federal||$3,380|
|America Coming Together - Nonfederal Account||$1,200|
|American Bakers Association Political Education Committee||$1,100|
|Democrats for America ’s Future||$600|
|The Cox Administrative Account||$500|
|Amalgamated Transit Union-COPE Special Holding Account||$250|
|Professional Insurance Agents PAC Non-Federal||$200|
|American Dental PAC Education Fund||$200|
|New Democrat Network Non-federal Account||$5|
*IBEW refers to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
|Wisconsin Laborers Vacation Fund||Madison||Not Applicable||$83,946|
|Dennis Troha||Kenosha||Kenesah Gaming Development||$50,000|
|Daniel Bader||Milwaukee||Granite Micro Systems||$50,000|
|Terry & Mary Kohler||Sheboygan||Windway Capital Corp||$45,000|
|Johnson Controls||Milwaukee||Not Applicable||$30,000|
|Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Oneida||Not Applicable||$25,000|
|Daniel Sherman||Waukesha||IBEW Local 2150**||$23,713|
|Wisconsin Insurance Alliance||Madison||Not Applicable||$20,000|
|Miller Brewing||Milwaukee||Not Applicable||$15,000|
|San Orr||Wausau||Wausau Mosinee Paper Corp||$15,000|
|Credit Union National Association||Madison||Not Applicable||$15,000|
|Mary E Weitner||Milwaukee||Homemaker||$14,578|
|Paul Welnak||Milwaukee||IBEW Local Union 494**||$14,089|
|George Mitchell||Whitefish Bay||Mitchell Co||$10,750|
|Ironworkers Local 383||Madison||Not Applicable||$10,314|
|Joe E Richardson II||Oostburg||Richardson Industries||$10,250|
|Wisconsin Public Service||Green Bay||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Glen Oak Lumber and Milling||Montcello||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Johnson Diversity||Sturtevant||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Madison Gas & Electric||Madison||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|National Funeral Directors Association PAC||Brookfield||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|Michael Grebe||Milwaukee||Bradley Foundation||$5,000|
|Gregory Breaker||Appleton||IBEW Local 577***||$4,144|
|Joyce B Heinrich||Watertown||Retired||$3,807|
|American Family Mutual Insurance||Madison||Not Applicable||$3,444|
|Donald K Mundt||Elm Grove||Retired||$3,250|
|Darlene Ross||Shawano||Lake Country Republican Women||$3,055|
|Roger S Hoffman||Madison||None Listed||$2,800|
|Joan R Robertson||Milwaukee||Homemaker||$2,800|
|Rev Edwin L Knauf||River Falls||Retired||$2,682|
|Everett E Smith||Waupaca||Retired||$2,168|
|St Croix Tribal Council||Webster||Not Applicable||$2,000|
**Contributors of $2,000 or more in 2005
***IBEW refers to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers