Six Wealthy Donors Give State GOP $255K

August 15, 2018

Rich Main in Sports Car in Front of Wisconsin Sign

Six wealthy contributors, all but one of whom are from outside Wisconsin, have given the state Republican Party $255,000 during the past two weeks.

A recent campaign finance report showed the contributions, between Aug. 3 and Aug. 13, came shortly before the state GOP announced it would be running $500,000 worth of television and digital ads around the state. The ads, which begin Thursday, will support Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bid for a third four-year term. Walker faces Democrat Tony Evers on the November ballot.

The Republican contributors, who are all past donors to Walker’s campaigns, were:

Michael and Mary Sue Shannon, Denver, Col., $50,000 each. Mike Shannon is a managing partner with KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in travel and leisure businesses, and Mary Sue is a homemaker. The Shannons, who also have a home in the Milwaukee area, have contributed $160,000 to Walker’s campaigns and another $3 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA, which spent $18.4 million on electioneering activities to help Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall, and 2014 reelection campaigns, has already booked $5 million in ads around the state this fall to help Walker.

Harold Smith, Chicago, Ill., a retiree whose billionaire family founded Northern Trust Corp. and Illinois Tool Works, $50,000. Smith has contributed $35,000 directly to Walker’s campaigns.

Donald Zietlow, Onalaska, Wis., owner of Kwik Trip, $50,000. Zietlow, and his wife, La Vonne, have contributed about $60,100 to Walker’s campaigns.

Charles Joyce, Wellsville, N.Y., president of Otis Eastern Service and a state and federal Republican Party heavyweight, $30,000. Joyce has contributed $1,000 to Walker’s campaigns.

Jennifer Pritzker, Chicago, Ill., billionaire founder of Tawani Enterprises and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, $25,000. Pritzker has contributed $21,000 to Walker’s campaigns.

Another campaign finance report filed by the state Democratic Party showed it received a $50,000 contribution last week from Robert Price, of La Jolla, Calif., chairman of PriceSmart Inc. In addition to the latest contribution, Price contributed $280,000 to the state party during the first six months of 2018 and another $300,000 to the state party last year.

Until November 2015, when Republicans drastically rewrote Wisconsin’s campaign finance law, the most anyone could give to a political party was $10,000 per election cycle.