WI Contributions to 527 Groups Hit $1.1M
Shadow groups funnel another $322,000 to pro-Doyle issue ad group
July 20, 2006
Madison - Wisconsin contributions topped $1.11 million in the first 18 months of the 2006 election cycle to groups that can collect and spend unlimited amounts of money on negative ads to manipulate voters and elections, a preliminary review by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign shows.
WDC also found that two of these so-called 527 groups – the Democratic Governors Association and the Heartland Political Action Committee – funneled $322,000 between May 11 and June 7 to an another type of unregulated group called the Greater Wisconsin Committee. The committee is a Democratic-leaning issue ad group which has been running television and radio ads throughout the state for the past several months in favor of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and critical of his Republican opponent this November, Mark Green.
Last August, the Democratic Governors Association contributed $300,000 to the committee to pay for pro-Doyle and anti-Green advertising. The association’s latest activity consisted of two contributions, one for $220,000 on May 11 and another for $62,000 on June 7, to the committee. The Heartland PAC, which is a fundraising committee for Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack, gave the Greater Wisconsin Committee $40,000 on May 16.
The association and Heartland PAC are among hundreds of unregulated political nonprofits known as 527 groups, a reference to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service code that governs them. These groups include the more commonly known America Coming Together, Club for Growth, GOPAC, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and MoveOn.org. These groups can accept and spend as much as they want on negative ads and direct mail.
Wealthy special interests contribute to these groups because many of their contributions would be illegal under Wisconsin law. Individuals may not contribute more than $10,000 in a calendar year to political candidates, parties and committees. And corporations and unions have been prohibited since 1906 from contributing to candidates, committees and parties from their treasuries.
Wisconsin contributions to 28 of these shadow groups (Table 1) during the first 18 months of the 2006 election cycle were slightly less than the $1.18 million during the first 18 months of the 2004 election cycle and 14 percent higher than the $976,358 in state contributions to the groups in the first 18 months of the 2002 election cycle.
|Democratic Governors Association||$361,300|
|Republican Governors Association||$126,425|
|Club for Growth||$112,750|
|Laborers Political League Education Fund||$98,690|
|Emily’s List Non-federal||$81,380|
|International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Educational Committee||$75,690|
|College Republican National Committee||$45,772|
|Ironworkers Political Education Fund||$21,055|
|Republican State Leadership Committee||$17,535|
|Property Casualty Insurers Association of America||$12,225|
|National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos. Administrative Fund||$10,749|
|National Federation of Republican Women||$9,649|
|AFL-CIO Cope - State and Local Voluntary Fund||$6,443|
|Democratic Attorneys General Association||$5,000|
|Engineers Political Education Committee Education Fund||$2,000|
|American Bakers Association Political Education Committee||$1,600|
|Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee||$1,250|
|America Coming Together - Nonfederal Account||$1,200|
|Democrats for America ’s Future||$900|
|Sheet Metal Workers International Association||$741|
|The Cox Administrative Account||$500|
|Professional Insurance Agents PAC Non-Federal||$450|
|Amalgamated Transit Union-COPE Special Holding Account||$250|
|American Dental PAC Education Fund||$200|
|New Democrat Network Non-federal Account||$30|
Topping the list of Wisconsin contributors (Table 2) between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006 was Lynde Uihlein at $175,000. She is a Milwaukee philanthropist who is heir to the Schlitz Brewing and Allen-Bradley family fortunes and a longtime supporter of Democratic causes and women’s issues.
Second to Uihlein was Johnson Controls at $145,000, a multi-national Fortune 500 company that produces dozens of automotive, building heating and safety products, among others. The company contributed $90,000 to the Republican Governors Association and $55,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, a sign that it is hedging its bets in order to have access to which ever party is in power.
|Lynde Uihlein||Milwaukee||Brico Fund||$175,000|
|Johnson Controls Inc||Milwaukee||Not Applicable||$145,000|
|Wisconsin Laborers Vacation Fund||Madison||Not Applicable||$98,690|
|Mary & Terry Kohler||Sheboygan||Windway Capital Corp||$80,000|
|Dennis Troha||Kenosha||Kenesha Gaming Development||$50,000|
|Daniel Bader||Milwaukee||Granite Micro Systems||$50,000|
|Daniel Sherman||Waukesha||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2150||$39,016|
|Credit Union National Association||Madison||Not Applicable||$30,000|
|Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Oneida||Not Applicable||$25,000|
|Ironworkers Local 383||Madison||Not Applicable||$21,055|
|Wisconsin Insurance Alliance||Madison||Not Applicable||$20,000|
|Miller Brewing Co||Milwaukee||Not Applicable||$15,000|
|San Orr||Wausau||Wausau Mosinee Paper Corp||$15,000|
|Mary E Weitner||Milwaukee||Homemaker||$14,578|
|Paul Welnak||Milwaukee||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494||$14,089|
|George Mitchell||Whitefish Bay||Mitchell Co/ School Choice WI||$15,750|
|Joe E Richardson||Oostburg||Richardson Industries||$10,500|
|John J Keller||Sheboygan||Sheboygan Oral and Maxillofacial Association||$10,000|
|Michael Grebe||Milwaukee||Bradley Foundation||$10,000|
|Johnson Diversity||Sturtevant||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Wisconsin Public Service||Green Bay||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Glen Oak Lumber and Milling||Monticello||Not Applicable||$10,000|
|Shawn Reents||Madison||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 965||$9,800|
|John Marincel||Eau Claire||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 953||$7,800|
|American Family Mutual Insurance||Madison||Not Applicable||$5,820|
|Joan R Robertson||Milwaukee||Not Applicable||$5,800|
|National Funeral Directors Association PAC||Brookfield||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|Madison Gas & Electric||Madison||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|Wisconsin Education Association Council||Madison||Not Applicable||$5,000|
|Thrivent Financial for Lutherans||Appleton||Not Applicable||$5,000|
*Table shows sources whose contributions totaled $5,000 or more during the period.