Walker’s Whales

Governor continues to rake in big money from elite class of donors

Posted: September 19, 2013
Updated: November 13, 2013

Madison – Seventy-eight individuals and couples mostly from outside Wisconsin contributed nearly $1 million to legislative and statewide officeholders and candidates during the first six months of 2013, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

This elite class of donors who contributed $10,000 or more is similar to “whales” – a gambling industry reference to an exclusive cache of wealthy high rollers who make big wagers and generally receive lavish comps from casinos to lure them back in the future.

These high rolling campaign donors, who contributed a total of $977,037, represent a wide range of influential special interests including business, manufacturing, banking and finance, insurance, health care, construction, energy, mining, school voucher and transportation (Table). And the comps these special interests get for their large contributions – state grants and contracts, low-interest loans, tax breaks, and looser environmental, consumer protection and other regulations – often come at the expense of what’s good for the pocketbooks or general well-being of the public.

The top recipient of this elite donor cash was Republican Governor Scott Walker who received $831,573 or 85 percent of their contributions. Walker has been on a mega-fundraising drive since 2011 when it became apparent there would be an attempt to recall him, which failed in 2012, and more recently on speculation he is a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

The governor’s haul from these high-rollers is staggering because state law limits individual contributions to the governor to $10,000 each. During the recall drive against him, the Democracy Campaign found Walker received $4.7 million from nearly three dozen mostly out-of-state donors who gave him between $50,000 and $510,000 each because state law also allows incumbents targeted for recall to accept unlimited contributions from individuals and political action committees before a recall election is scheduled.

Behind Walker was Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack who received $80,415, or 8 percent of the contributions made by these donors in the first six months of 2013. Roggensack, who won a second 10-year term on the court in the spring elections, is technically a nonpartisan candidate but widely regarded as a member of the high court’s conservative bloc which holds a 4-3 majority.

Rounding out the top three recipients was GOP Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch – also the target of an unsuccessfully recall attempt in 2012 – who accepted $45,200 or 5 percent of the contributions made by these mega donors.

The Democracy Campaign review of these donors also found:

  • Fourteen contributors have already exceeded the $10,000 annual limit on contributions they can make to all candidates. Campaign finance reports filed by the candidates show these contributors each made total contributions ranging from $10,100 to $18,250 during the first six months of 2013. The Democracy Campaign has asked the state Government Accountability Board, which enforces the state’s lobbying, elections and campaign finance laws, to investigate these contributions (see attached letter);
  • Fifty-two of the 78 individuals or couples were from outside Wisconsin and their contributions to Walker and the others totaled $650,322 or 66 percent of the high-roller contributions;
  • The most out-of-state contributions came from Texas at $195,073 followed by Illinois at $105,500, Missouri at $60,000; Florida at $50,000; and New York at $40,000.

Table
Top* Contributors To Candidates For Statewide Office And The Legislature
January – June 2013

Contributor City State Employer Amount
Ziegler, Stephen and Heather Oconomowoc WI Inpro Corp $25,000.00
Kellner, Ted and Mary Thiensville WI Fiduciary Management/Kelben Foundation $23,500.00
Couri, Gerald and Judith Waukesha WI Couri Insurance Agency $20,100.00
Smith, Thomas W and Diane Palm Beach FL Prescott Investors Inc $20,000.00
DeVos, Dick and Betsy Grand Rapids MI Alticor/Windquest $20,000.00
Dunn, Timothy and Terri Midland TX CrownQuest $20,000.00
Sinquefield, Jeanne and Rex Westphalia MO Show-Me Institute $20,000.00
McMahon, Brett and Allyson Baltimore MD Miller & Long $20,000.00
Mullett, Donald H and Barbara Hartland WI Bradley Corp $20,000.00
Goodman, John A and Cayenne Frisco TX Goodman Family Foundation $20,000.00
Hanley, William L and Alice Palm Beach FL Lexington Management Group $20,000.00
Kovner, Suzie and Bruce New York NY Caxton Alternative Management LP $20,000.00
Hiles, Marcus and Nancy Fort Worth TX WRPS LP $20,000.00
McNair, Janice and Robert Houston TX Houston Texans $20,000.00
James , Virginia Lambertville NJ School choice $18,250.00
Pederson, Tim and Laura Hartland WI Diversified Benefit Services $16,000.00
Williams, Clayton and Modesta Midland TX Clayton Williams Energy Inc $15,000.00
MacLean, Barry and Mary Ann Mundelein IL MacLean-Fogg Co $15,000.00
Wilkey, Richard and Susan Hartland WI Fisher Barton Inc $15,000.00
Mitchell, George and Susan Whitefish Bay WI School Choice Wisconsin $13,300.00
Kress, Carol J and Donald Green Bay WI Retired $13,000.00
Hillis, Jennifer and Robert Milwaukee WI Direct Supply Inc $12,500.00
Schuette, Ruth Wausau WI Wausau Homes $12,500.00
Mallinger, Gene E Brookfield WI Metal-Era Inc $12,000.00
Schierl, Paul J and Carol De Pere WI Cornerstone Foundation or NE Wisconsin $12,000.00
Nicholas, Albert Hartland WI Nicholas Company Inc $11,000.00
Hayden, Marilyn and Jerry Scottsdale AZ Retired $11,000.00
Bergstrom, John Neenah WI Bergstrom Enterprises $10,500.00
Uihlein, Richard and Elizabeth Lake Forest IL U-Line Corp $10,500.00
Roggensack, Matthew and Rebecca Madison WI Dental Health Associates/Attorney $10,264.67
Menard, John Jr R Eau Claire WI Menards Inc $10,250.00
Markos, Dennis A and Carol Madison WI Sound Devices LLC $10,200.00
Pfister, Richard Hayward WI Midwest Stihl $10,100.00
Stedman, Eliza and Stuart Houston TX Stedman West Interests $10,072.64
Graham, Kenneth R Delafield WI HNTB Architects, Engineers, Planners $10,000.00
Baxter, Frank Los Angeles CA Jefferies & Co $10,000.00
Harris, Robert H Holmdel NJ Federal Research Consultants $10,000.00
Keller Brown, Rachel and Travis St Louis MO Pelopidas $10,000.00
Herzog, Stanley M St Joseph MO Herzog Contracting Corp $10,000.00
Hill , Ron Plano TX Goodman Networks $10,000.00
Brown, Dale Midland TX Legacy Reserves LP $10,000.00
Lupo, Elizabeth Park Ridge IL The Cradle $10,000.00
Click, Vicki and Jim Tucson AZ Jim Click Automotive Team $10,000.00
Friess, Foster and Lynnette Jackson WY Friess Associates Inc $10,000.00
Canning, Michael G Inverness IL CDW Corp $10,000.00
Faulkner, Gordon and Judith Madison WI Physician/Epic Systems $10,000.00
Canning, Timothy M Chicago IL Lemon Tree $10,000.00
Mack, John J Rye NY Morgan Stanley $10,000.00
Divelbiss, Richard J Madison WI Pizza Hut $10,000.00
Childs, John W Waltham MA JW Childs Associates $10,000.00
Craft, Joe Tulsa OK Alliance Coal LLC $10,000.00
Gentine, Lawrence J Fond du Lac WI Sargento Inc $10,000.00
Sagui, Gary V Wilmette IL Templar Securities $10,000.00
Weber, Donald J La Crosse WI Logistics Health Inc $10,000.00
Warren, Kelcy Dallas TX Energy Transfer $10,000.00
Warren, Amy Dallas TX Homemaker $10,000.00
Walton, Christy Jackson WY Walmart Stores $10,000.00
Tippie, Henry Austin TX Investor $10,000.00
Stuart, Alexander D Lake Forest IL North Star Investments $10,000.00
Stephens, Warren A Little Rock AR Stephens Inc $10,000.00
Stallings, Kyle L Midland TX Permian Basin Acquisition Fund $10,000.00
Sparks, Kevin D Midland TX Discovery Operating Inc $10,000.00
Shannon, Mary Sue Milwaukee WI Homemaker $10,000.00
Lindemann, Frayda New York NY Homemaker $10,000.00
Schuette, Jay Sugar Grove IL Wausau Homes $10,000.00
Hotze, Steven F Katy TX Hotze Health & Wellness Center $10,000.00
Ricketts, Todd M Wilmette IL Chicago Cubs $10,000.00
Miezel, Larry Denver CO Richmond American Homes $10,000.00
McMahon, John Bethesda MD Miller & Long $10,000.00
Marcus, Bernard Atlanta GA Retired $10,000.00
Lindemann, George West Palm Beach FL Retired $10,000.00
Atkins, Sarah Arlington VA TAMKO Building Products $10,000.00
Leach, Timothy Midland TX Concho Resources $10,000.00
Kunkler, William Chicago IL CC Industries $10,000.00
Kubly, Michael Milwaukee WI Charles E Kubly Foundation $10,000.00
Humphreys, Ethelmae Joplin MO TAMKO Building Products $10,000.00
Humphreys, David C Joplin MO TAMKO Building Products $10,000.00
Shannon, Mike Denver CO KSL Capital Partners $10,000.00
TOTAL $977,037.31

*Table shows individuals and couples who contributed $10,000 or more during the period.

Letter to GAB