Tech Companies at the Trough

Two more IT companies give to Doyle after getting state work

March 27, 2006

Madison - Executives from two out-of-state companies contributed nearly $45,000 to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle’s campaign after they were hired to work on technology and real estate projects, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has found.

The companies join a growing list of mostly information technology firms previously identified by the media and other sources whose executives contributed to Doyle around the time they were seeking or were awarded millions of dollars in contracts with the state.

WDC found that executives of Crowe Chizek, one of the nation’s largest accounting and consulting firms, and Equis Corporation, a real estate services company, did not contribute to Doyle or any candidate for statewide office until after they were awarded contracts through the state Department of Administration in April 2004.

Crowe Chizek won a $6.7 million contract to consolidate hundreds of state computer servers in order to improve efficiency and save money on personnel and equipment. Since April 2004, Doyle’s campaign has received $17,500 from Crowe Chizek executives, including a $2,500 contribution two months after the company got the job (Table 1).

Table 1
History of Contributions to Governor Jim Doyle from Crowe Chizek

Date Name Location Contribution
12/20/05 Michael Claytor Indianapolis, IN $2,000
12/20/05 Robert Lazard Indianapolis, IN $1,000
12/20/05 Jeanne Owings Chicago, IL $2,000
12/20/05 Milvern Nuehring Lombard, IL $1,000
12/26/05 Simon Riley Primm Springs, TN $2,000
12/20/05 Douglas Schrock Carmel, IN $2,000
12/20/05 Joseph Santucci Jr Carmel, IN $2,000
12/20/05 Kevin Ohl Aurora, IL $1,000
6/21/05 Kevin Ohl Aurora, IL $1,000
6/21/05 Robert Lazard Indianapolis, IN $1,000
6/22/04 Robert Lazard Indianapolis, IN $2,500
TOTAL $17,500

Equis was hired to review the state’s real estate holdings and leases, dispose of surplus property to save money and find a building to house the state’s computer servers for the consolidation project. Equis’ initial contract plus revisions in December 2004 and January 2005 to add work is worth $2.6 million plus expenses and a 25 percent cut on property they sell for the state. A veteran real estate agent and an industry observer say the 25 percent commission is unheard of. Commissions in commercial real estate deals top out at 10 percent.

Doyle received $27,250 in contributions in June and October 2005 from Equis executives and a spouse (Table 2).

Table 2
History of Contributions to Governor Jim Doyle from Equis Corporation

Date Name Location Contribution
10/12/05 Michael & Mary Silver Chicago, IL $14,000
10/12/05 Michael Sheinkop Chicago, IL $2,000
10/12/05 Lawrence Odrobinak Naperville, IL $2,500
10/12/05 John Kranz North Barrington, IL $1,000
6/30/05 Michael & Mary Silver Chicago, IL $5,750
6/30/05 John Niemi Castle Rock, CO $1,000
6/30/05 David Montross Chicago, IL $1,000
TOTAL $27,250

Previously identified company executives who gave to Doyle’s campaign around the time they won state contracts include IBM employees who gave $11,100 between 2003 and 2005 when the company won state contracts totaling more than $6 million; a Charter Communications subsidiary’s chief executive who gave $5,000 three months after winning a $367,000 contract in 2003; Oracle Corporation employees who contributed $3,250 around the time the firm received a $29 million contract in 2005; and a Berbee Information Network executive who gave $5,000 a few months before and after the company received a $185,700 contract in 2005.

EDS Federal employees contributed $450 after the company received a $214,497 no-bid contract; a Hewlett Packard employee gave $500 two months after the company won a $150,000 no-bid contract; Mead & Hunt executives gave $1,500 in 2004 when the company received a $79,618 no-bid contract; and Adelman Travel officials contributed $20,000 around the time the company received a $750,000 contract in 2005.