Wealthy Outsiders Control Legislators’ Job Security

Most contributions come from outside special interests, not constituents

September 18, 2008

Madison - Legislators collectively accepted $2 of every $3 in large individual contributions in 2007 from special interests who lived outside their districts and could not vote for them, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

That startling gap in out-of-district and in-district contributions means most legislators are more dependent on distant, wealthy special interests to pay for their election campaigns and help them keep their jobs than they are on their constituents. That also means the policy and spending wish lists of special interests are put ahead of the needs of constituents who rely on their legislators to represent their interests.

Members of the Senate and Assembly raised $2.07 million in $100-plus donations in 2007 of which $1.35 million or 65.3 percent came from business, manufacturing, real estate, construction, banking and other powerful special interests. Only $717,810 or 34.7 percent of the large individual contributions legislators accepted in 2007 came from their constituents. And the latest figures are as bad as those in past, comparable years (see Chart 1).

Chart 1

Chart 1: In-District and Out-of-District Contributions to Legislators

In 2005, legislators raised 71.5 percent or $1.12 million of their $100-plus contributions from wealthy outsiders and only 28.5 percent or $448,715 from their constituents. In 2003, legislators raised $1 million or 67.1 percent of their large contributions from outside their districts and $493,482 or 32.9 percent from constituents.

Other key findings in the WDC analysis include:

  • Eleven legislators accepted all of their $100-plus contributions in 2007 from donors outside of their districts, ranging from $100 by Republican Representative Al Ott of Forest Junction to $4,550 by Democratic Representative Fred Kessler of Milwaukee;
  • Forty-five – or one-third – of the 132 legislators in the Assembly and Senate accepted 75 percent or more of their campaign cash from donors outside of their districts and 80 legislators accepted 50 percent or more in large individual contributions from outside their districts;

Darling faces Democratic Representative Sheldon Wasserman in what may end up being one of the most expensive Senate races in state history. Wasserman raised $33,901 or 56 percent of his total $60,634 in large individual contributions in 2007 from outside his district.

  • In dollars, Republican Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills accepted the most contributions of any legislator from outside of her district – $95,807 or 40 percent of the $239,186 in large individual contributions she raised in 2007 (see Table). Darling was followed by Democratic Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee who accepted $85,486 or 94 percent of her contributions from outside her legislative district. However, some of those out-of-district contributions were likely from Milwaukee County residents who contributed to her unsuccessful campaign last spring to become county executive. Rounding out the top three was Republican Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch of Onalaska who accepted $72,435 or 83 percent of his total $86,985 in large individual contributions from outside his district;
  • Among the four legislative caucuses, the Senate Democrats collected the largest percentage of large individual contributions from outside their districts – 77 percent or $341,484 – and the Senate Republicans collected the lowest percentage – 48 percent or $298,753 (see Chart 2).

Chart 2

Chart 2: 2007 In-District and Out-of-District Contributions by Caucus

The ratio for the two Assembly caucuses was nearly the same – Republicans accepted 71 percent or $456,403 from outside their districts and the Democrats accepted 70 percent or $256,713 from outside their districts;

  • By party, the legislature’s 65 Democrats collected 74 percent or $598,197 of their large individual contributions from outside their districts and $215,295 or 26 percent from their constituents. The legislature’s 67 Republicans got 60 percent or $755,156 from outside their districts and 40 percent or $502,515 from their constituents;
  • Only two legislators accepted all of their large individual contributions from inside their districts – Democratic Senator Fred Risser of Madison and Republican Representative Samantha Kerkman of Genoa City who each raised $300. Nineteen other legislators did not raise any large individual contributions in 2007.

Table

Table
In-District and Out-District Large Individual Contributions to Legislators in 2007
Listed in Descending Order by Out-District Contributions

Legislator Office Party In-District
Contributions
In-District
Percentage
Out-District
Contributions
Out-District
Percentage
Darling, Alberta S08 R $143,379.00 59.94% $95,807.00 40.06%
Taylor, Lena C S04 D $5,395.00 5.94% $85,485.65 94.06%
Huebsch, Michael A94 R $14,550.00 16.73% $72,435.00 83.27%
Kanavas, Theodore J S33 R $30,100.00 29.62% $71,522.00 70.38%
Hansen, Dave S30 D $17,403.00 20.71% $66,632.50 79.29%
Breske, Roger S12 D $17,665.00 21.15% $65,837.76 78.85%
Wirch, Robert S22 D $14,163.00 18.30% $63,238.00 81.70%
Colon, Pedro A08 D $1,450.00 2.33% $60,681.50 97.67%
Fitzgerald, Scott S13 R $12,113.20 22.44% $41,864.36 77.56%
Vos, Robin A63 R $6,100.00 12.98% $40,912.50 87.02%
Fitzgerald, Jeff A39 R $3,162.50 7.28% $40,263.50 92.72%
Wasserman, Sheldon A22 D $26,733.00 44.09% $33,901.00 55.91%
Davis, Brett H A80 R $14,959.56 35.98% $26,615.00 64.02%
Kapanke, Dan S32 R $44,699.00 62.87% $26,400.00 37.13%
Lazich, Mary S28 R $14,600.00 38.12% $23,700.00 61.88%
Van Roy, Karl A90 R $1,300.00 6.22% $19,593.00 93.78%
Jorgensen, Andy A37 D $2,760.00 12.97% $18,524.00 87.03%
Moulton, Terry A68 R $8,515.00 31.53% $18,488.00 68.47%
Nelson, Thomas A05 D $4,518.00 19.76% $18,343.24 80.24%
Hines, JA A42 R $11,015.03 40.00% $16,525.00 60.00%
Kedzie, Neal S11 R $34,959.51 68.60% $16,000.00 31.40%
Miller, Mark S16 D $15,475.00 49.28% $15,925.00 50.72%
Murtha, John A29 R $7,013.32 30.97% $15,630.00 69.03%
Kreuser, James A64 D $1,900.00 11.29% $14,923.00 88.71%
Mason, Cory A62 D $5,095.00 25.86% $14,610.00 74.14%
Gunderson, Scott A83 R $1,475.00 9.34% $14,318.00 90.66%
Garthwaite, Philip C A49 D $3,001.00 17.97% $13,700.00 82.03%
Wieckert, Steve A57 R $5,100.00 27.49% $13,450.00 72.51%
Suder, Scott A69 R $3,615.00 22.89% $12,180.00 77.11%
Hraychuck, Ann A28 D $5,709.00 32.07% $12,091.05 67.93%
Nerison, Lee A A96 R $2,673.00 19.66% $10,924.00 80.34%
Newcomer, Scott A33 R $2,150.00 16.68% $10,741.00 83.32%
Montgomery, Phil A04 R $9,700.00 47.72% $10,625.00 52.28%
Lasee, Frank A02 R $2,405.00 19.23% $10,100.00 80.77%
Mursau, Jeffrey L A36 R $2,200.00 18.07% $9,975.00 81.93%
Stone, Jeff A82 R $2,085.00 17.53% $9,810.00 82.47%
Kramer, Bill A97 R $5,250.00 35.29% $9,625.00 64.71%
Soletski, Jim A88 D $3,356.24 26.15% $9,479.00 73.85%
Williams, Mary A87 R $2,995.00 24.74% $9,109.00 75.26%
Gundrum, Mark A84 R $3,100.00 25.51% $9,050.00 74.49%
Harsdorf, Sheila S10 R $21,988.70 71.65% $8,700.00 28.35%
Hintz, Gordon N A54 D $5,865.00 40.99% $8,445.00 59.01%
Honadel, Mark A21 R $4,854.00 39.42% $7,459.00 60.58%
Rhoades, Kitty A30 R $3,000.00 29.85% $7,050.00 70.15%
Nygren, John A89 R $4,670.00 41.53% $6,575.00 58.47%
Kreitlow, Patrick J S23 D $7,936.00 55.13% $6,459.00 44.87%
Jauch, Robert S25 D $600.00 8.57% $6,400.80 91.43%
Kleefisch, Joel A38 R $7,600.00 54.68% $6,300.00 45.32%
Ott, Jim A23 R $4,950.00 44.00% $6,300.00 56.00%
Sheridan, Michael A44 D $1,475.00 19.84% $5,960.00 80.16%
Plale, Jeffrey S07 D $800.00 12.11% $5,807.00 87.89%
Smith, Jeffrey E A93 D $11,180.68 67.55% $5,370.00 32.45%
Hixson, Kim A43 D $5,220.00 49.41% $5,345.00 50.59%
Bies, Garey D A01 R $2,700.00 33.75% $5,300.00 66.25%
Zipperer, Rich A98 R $5,160.00 49.33% $5,300.00 50.67%
Decker, Russ S29 D $1,000.00 16.08% $5,220.00 83.92%
Kessler, Frederick P A12 D $0.00 0.00% $4,550.00 100.00%
Lasee, Alan S01 R $1,000.00 18.18% $4,500.00 81.82%
Fields, Jason M A11 D $0.00 0.00% $4,300.00 100.00%
Vinehout, Kathleen S31 D $8,510.00 67.49% $4,100.00 32.51%
Vruwink, Amy Sue A70 D $6,055.00 60.74% $3,914.39 39.26%
Schultz, Dale S17 R $2,600.00 40.94% $3,750.00 59.06%
Carpenter, Tim S03 D $850.00 18.68% $3,700.00 81.32%
Zepnick, Josh A09 D $300.00 7.74% $3,575.00 92.26%
Hilgenberg, Steve A51 D $8,847.00 71.51% $3,525.00 28.49%
Petersen, Kevin David A40 R $8,925.00 71.83% $3,500.00 28.17%
Roth, Roger J Jr A56 R $2,450.00 41.18% $3,500.00 58.82%
Hahn, Eugene A47 R $825.00 19.19% $3,475.00 80.81%
Tauchen, Gary A06 R $5,500.00 62.50% $3,300.00 37.50%
Erpenbach, Jon S27 D $3,550.00 53.26% $3,115.00 46.74%
Lassa, Julie S24 D $7,927.00 72.16% $3,059.00 27.84%
Lehman, John S21 D $1,110.00 27.34% $2,950.00 72.66%
Richards, Jon A19 D $1,100.00 29.33% $2,650.00 70.67%
Nass, Stephen L A31 R $1,350.00 35.06% $2,500.00 64.94%
Meyer, Dan A34 R $6,676.50 73.16% $2,450.00 26.84%
Wood, Jeffrey S A67 R $500.00 18.35% $2,225.00 81.65%
Sherman, Gary A74 D $6,741.00 75.82% $2,150.00 24.18%
Leibham, Joseph S09 R $11,655.00 84.67% $2,110.00 15.33%
Friske, Donald A35 R $1,814.30 46.95% $2,050.00 53.05%
Grothman, Glenn S20 R $2,200.00 55.00% $1,800.00 45.00%
Seidel, Donna J A85 D $2,675.00 60.45% $1,750.00 39.55%
Staskunas, Tony A15 D $100.00 5.41% $1,750.00 94.59%
Coggs, G Spencer S06 D $0.00 0.00% $1,700.00 100.00%
Sullivan, Jim S05 D $1,550.00 48.38% $1,654.00 51.62%
Pridemore, Don A99 R $200.00 10.81% $1,650.00 89.19%
Cowles, Robert S02 R $700.00 31.82% $1,500.00 68.18%
Vukmir, Leah A14 R $0.00 0.00% $1,450.00 100.00%
Pocan, Mark A78 D $1,350.00 50.94% $1,300.00 49.06%
Albers, Sheryl A50 R $3,410.00 73.18% $1,250.00 26.82%
Petrowski, Jerry A86 R $500.00 29.41% $1,200.00 70.59%
Shilling, Jennifer A95 D $1,350.00 56.63% $1,033.91 43.37%
Kestell, Steve A27 R $0.00 0.00% $1,000.00 100.00%
Olsen, Luther S14 R $0.00 0.00% $1,000.00 100.00%
Grigsby, Tamara D A18 D $0.00 0.00% $992.00 100.00%
Parisi, Joseph T A48 D $300.00 25.00% $900.00 75.00%
Hebl, Gary A46 D $1,880.00 68.86% $850.00 31.14%
Toles, Barbara L A17 D $0.00 0.00% $750.00 100.00%
Ballweg, Joan A41 R $1,950.00 79.59% $500.00 20.41%
Cullen, David A13 D $600.00 54.55% $500.00 45.45%
Gottlieb, Mark A60 R $1,760.00 77.88% $500.00 22.12%
LeMahieu, Daniel R A59 R $2,444.50 85.94% $400.00 14.06%
Hubler, Mary A75 D $0.00 0.00% $300.00 100.00%
Musser, Terry A92 R $800.00 72.73% $300.00 27.27%
Townsend, John A52 R $134.00 30.88% $300.00 69.12%
Pope-Roberts, Sondy A79 D $0.00 0.00% $250.00 100.00%
Robson, Judith S15 D $200.00 50.00% $200.00 50.00%
Black, Spencer A77 D $100.00 50.00% $100.00 50.00%
Molepske, Louis John Jr A71 D $500.00 83.33% $100.00 16.67%
Ott, Alvin A03 R $0.00 0.00% $100.00 100.00%
Roessler, Carol S18 R $234.00 70.06% $100.00 29.94%
Schneider, Marlin A72 D $700.00 87.50% $100.00 12.50%
Strachota, Pat A58 R $450.00 81.82% $100.00 18.18%
Benedict, Chuck A45 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Berceau, Terese A76 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Boyle, Frank A73 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Ellis, Michael S19 R $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Gronemus, Barbara A91 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Jeskewitz, Suzanne A24 R $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Kaufert, Dean A55 R $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Kerkman, Samantha A66 R $300.00 100.00% $0.00 0.00%
Krusick, Peggy A07 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Lothian, Thomas A A32 R $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Owens, Carol A53 R $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Risser, Fred S26 D $300.00 100.00% $0.00 0.00%
Sinicki, Christine A20 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Steinbrink, John A65 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Travis, David A81 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Turner, Robert A61 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Van Akkeren, Terry A26 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Williams, Annette Polly A10 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Young, Leon A16 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%
Ziegelbauer, Bob A25 D $0.00 0.00% $0.00 0.00%