GOP, Democratic Donors Continue to Give Big to High-Court Candidates

Posted: March 30, 2016
Updated: March 31, 2016

Individual Tossing Money

The latest campaign fundraising and spending reports filed by the two candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court show top Republican donors favor incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley and longtime Democratic contributors back her challenger, Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Bradley and Kloppenburg face off in next week’s April 5 spring election for a 10-year term on the Supreme Court.

The latest campaign finance reports, and a previous fundraising and spending report, show Bradley’s top individual donors between Jan. 1 and March 21 were:

  • Jere Fabick, of Oconomowoc, president of FABCO Equipment, $20,000.
Fabick, and his wife, Renee, contributed about $313,100 mostly to Republican candidates for statewide office and the legislature between January 1995 and December 2015. Topping the list of contributions from the Fabicks were Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $80,700, and GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $37,500.
  • Diane Hendricks, of Afton, owner of ABC Supply Co., $15,000.
Between January 1995 and December 2015, Hendricks contributed more than $644,000 to Republican candidates for statewide office and the legislature – substantially more than any other individual. The top recipients of contributions from Hendricks were Walker, $529,100, former Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen $12,400, and Kleefisch, $11,000.
  • Fred Young, of Racine, former owner of Young Radiator, $10,000.
Young contributed $138,600 – all to Republican statewide and legislative candidates – between January 1995 and December 2015. The top recipients of Young contributions were Walker, $55,250, Kleefisch, $9,000, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Burlington, $5,500.
  • Louis Gentine, of Elkhart Lake, retired owner of Sargento Foods, and his wife, Michelle, $10,000 each.
The Gentines contributed nearly $170,000 between January 1995 and December 2015 – all to Republican legislative and statewide candidates. The top recipients of the couple’s contributions were Walker, $61,000, Kleefisch, $22,500, and 2006 candidate for governor Mark Green, $16,200.

In addition to the partisan individual contributors, the state Republican Party made in-kind contributions totaling nearly $41,900 to Bradley’s campaign between Jan. 1 and March 21.

Kloppenburg’s top donors between Jan. 1 and March 21 were:

  • Lynde Uihlein, of Milwaukee, president of the Brico Fund, $20,000.
Uihlein contributed about $163,100 between January 1995 and December 2015 to legislative and statewide candidates and fundraising committees, and all but $1,200 went to Democrats. Her top recipients were the State Senate Democratic Committee, $50,250, former Gov. Jim Doyle, $21,000, and former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, $14,075.
  • Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele, $10,000.
Abele, and his wife, Miriam, contributed about $141,000 between January 2000 and December 2015 to legislative and statewide candidates and fundraising committees, and all but $2,000 went to Democrats. Top recipients of the couple’s contributions were Doyle, $40,000, former candidate for governor Mary Burke, $20,000, and the State Senate Democratic Committee, $16,000.

In addition to the partisan individual contributors, Kloppenburg’s campaign received nearly $55,000 in political action committee contributions from teachers unions, which are traditional backers of Democratic candidates.

UPDATE:  An additional, special report filed March 30 by the Bradley campaign identified an additional top donor, Robert Greenheck, of Weston, Wis., an executive with Greenheck Fan, contributed $10,000 to Bradley's campaign on March 22.  Greenheck contributed nearly $40,500 between January 1995 and December 2015 - all to Republican legislative and statewide candidates.  Topping his list of recipients were Walker, $13,750, Attorney General Brad Schimel, $5,000, and Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of Marathon, $4,100.

The report also showed the state Republican Party made an additional $27,318 in in-kind contributions from March 23-25 to Bradley's campaign.  Combined with the in-kind contributions cited earlier, the state GOP has contributed a total of about $69,200 since Jan. 1 to Bradley's campaign.