Students Contribute $86,000+ To Candidates

Analysis reveals some students gave to same candidates at same time as parents

October 22, 2007

Madison - Contributors identified as “student” in campaign finance reports gave $86,243 to candidates for statewide office and the legislature from 2002 through June 2007, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

The typical money struggles people associate with college students certainly did not appear to be a problem for many of these 177 student contributors, whose 303 contributions ranged from $7.50 to $5,000.

Thirty-one students contributed $1,000 or more, another 18 contributed between $500 and $988, an additional 67 contributed $200 to $490 each, 51 contributed between $100 and $175 and 10 contributed under $100 (Table).

WDC also found some student contributors who made some of the largest contributions did so around the same time and to the same candidates as their parents. Twelve of the 31 students who contributed $1,000 or more made their contributions at the time or shortly after one or both of their parents had given the same candidate the maximum allowable contribution in that election cycle.

State rules require campaign contributors to be at least 14 years old but contributors are not required to say how old they are. State law prohibits making contributions in the name of another person or reimbursing someone for making campaign contributions. That law is designed to prevent individuals from exceeding the limit on contributions a candidate may collect from one person.

Topping the list of student contributors was Vikram Saini, of Elm Grove, who gave Democratic Governor Jim Doyle $5,000 on March 8, 2002. His father, Dr. Bhupinder Saini of Advanced Pain Management, also contributed $5,000 to Doyle the same day.

Two contributors listed as students – Matthew Troha of Kenosha and David Sensenbrenner of Madison – each made multiple contributions totaling $4,000 from 2002 through June 30, 2007.

Troha contributed $2,000 to Doyle and $500 to Democratic legislative candidate Roger Dier in 2002. He also made two contributions totaling $1,500 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee in 2003. Troha’s contribution to Doyle coincided with $16,000 in contributions by four other Troha family members August 22, 2002. His contributions to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee – $1,000 on July 16 and $500 on March 21 of 2003 – coincided with $5,000 in contributions made by five other family members on July 16 and July 17, 2003 and $1,500 in contributions by three family members between March 21 and March 28, 2003.

Matthew’s father, Dennis Troha, was charged early this year with two felonies accusing him of funneling more than $100,000 to family members so they could make campaign contributions to state and federal candidates and party committees to win approval of a proposed $800 million casino in Kenosha. No other family members have been charged in the federal investigation. Dennis Troha, who severed his ties with the casino project shortly before the charges were filed, has agreed to plead guilty to two lesser misdemeanor charges of exceeding campaign contributions limits.

David Sensenbrenner, the son of former Madison Mayor Joe Sensenbrenner and his wife, Mary Ellyn, made three contributions totaling $3,000 in 2002 to then Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk. He also made $500 contributions to Doyle and to Democratic legislative candidate Corey Ladick. David Sensenbrenner’s 2002 contributions to Falk included $1,500 on August 19, $500 on August 28 and $1,000 on February 28 which closely coincides with his mother’s contributions to Falk – $500 on August 30 and $1,000 on February 14.

Five student contributors gave a total of $2,500 each. John Walsh, son of Madison attorney and longtime Doyle supporter David Walsh, gave Doyle $2,000 in 2002 and another $500 in 2006. Courtney Oldenburg, daughter of Milwaukee businessman Wayne Oldenburg, contributed $2,500 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green on July 24, 2006, the same day her father gave Green $5,500.

Emily Sussman, a student in New York, contributed $2,500 to Doyle on October 12, 2006 and Tim Van de Kamp, a Madison student, contributed $2,500 to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett on May 21, 2002. Molly Walsh, of Boulder, Colorado, gave Doyle two contributions in 2002 and 2004 totaling $2,500. WDC could not determine if she is related to the other Walshes.

Michael Walsh, a Madison student and another son of David Walsh, contributed $2,000 to Doyle on August 30, 2002, the same day his brother, John, gave Doyle $2,000. WDC could not determine if the Michael Walsh from Madison and a Michael Walsh identified as a student living in Westminster, Colorado when he gave Doyle two $500 contributions in 2006 were the same person.

Ninety-one candidates for statewide office and the legislature and three legislative leadership committees accepted student contributions from 2002 through June 30, 2007. Topping the list was Doyle, who accepted $26,185, or 30 percent of the total student contributions to all candidates during the period.

Doyle was followed by Gary Baier, a Republican Senate candidate in 2004 who accepted $6,000 – six $1,000 contributions – from six students in two different families all on August 6, 2004. Their parents also gave $1,000 each to Baier on the same day. The maximum amount a Senate candidate may take from an individual is $1,000 per election cycle.

Kathleen Falk, a 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and 2006 attorney general candidate, accepted $5,073 from student contributors followed by Green who got $3,950 and Democratic legislator Gordon Hintz who accepted $3,393.

Table
Total Individual Contributions* from Students
2002 – June 30, 2007

Contributor City Amount
Saini, Vikram Elm Grove $5,000
Sensenbrenner, David Madison $4,000
Troha, Matthew Kenosha $4,000
Oldenburg, Courtney Milwaukee $2,500
Sussman, Emily New York, NY $2,500
Van de Kamp, Tim Madison $2,500
Walsh, John Madison $2,500
Walsh, Molly Boulder, CO $2,500
Walsh, Michael Madison $2,000
Klein, Caroline Brookfield $1,500
Klein, Michael Brookfield $1,500
Fienen, Michael San Francisco, CA $1,435
Hebl, Matt Sun Prairie $1,425
Hebl, Andrew Sun Prairie $1,125
Schellinger, Jacob Wauwatosa $1,100
Hebl, Jenny Sun Prairie $1,025
Aman, Saleem Brookfield $1,000
Baer, Eric Manitowish Waters $1,000
Baer, Mora Manitowish Waters $1,000
Baer, Vanessa Manitowish Waters $1,000
Dobersek, John Racine $1,000
Gialamas, Gina Madison $1,000
Hubbard, Chris Waukesha $1,000
Johnson, Phillip Hayward $1,000
Krupp, Amanda Waunakee $1,000
Mandarini, Louis Coral Gables, FL $1,000
Singh, Harpreet Milwaukee $1,000
Zeilinger, Brandon Janesville $1,000
Zeilinger, Kayle Janesville $1,000
Walsh, Michael Westminster, CO $1,000
Zeilinger, Kristen Janesville $1,000
Wolfberg, Elias Cambridge, MA $988
Schreiber, Dana Madison $850
Noffke, Ben Omro $800
Bartow, Rebecca Oshkosh $700
Schellinger, Jacqueline Milwaukee $600
Bacon, Laura L Watertown $500
Barrington, Catherine Antigo $500
Curry, William H New Holstein $500
Ennis, Natalie Wisconsin Dells $500
Finn, Nicole Pewaukee $500
George, Dawn Fort Atkinson $500
Hogan, Matthew Milwaukee $500
Kidwell, Kristen Holland, MI $500
Mehring, Paul Austin, TX $500
Riggs, Brendon Madison $500
Rossman, Amy T Los Angeles, CA $500
Seyler, Alicia Madison $500
Sweasy, Janette Bay City $500