Budget Writers Have Accepted More Than $2 Million in Special Interest Contributions

April 23, 2001

Madison - Joint Finance Committee members who are reviewing the proposed 2001-03 state budget have accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from special interests, according to a report released today by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The report, "Who’s Courting the Sweet 16?" identifies the source of large individual contributions from 1991 through 2000 and political action committee contributions from 1993 through 2000 from 23 special interest groups to the 16-member budget-writing committee. The report consists of a brief summary and several tables and charts that detail special interest contributions to each JFC member.

It shows bankers and the financial industry led in special interest contributions with $259,185 followed by health professionals at $217,442. Lawyers/law firms/lobbyists and manufacturing interests round out the top four categories, which also mirror the top special interest campaign contributors to the current legislature as a whole.

Republican Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills has accepted the most in special interest contributions among committee members - $426,007 - followed by Republican Sen. Robert Welch of Redgranite at $265,903 and Democratic Sen. Kevin Shibilski of Stevens Point at $175,217.

As the committee begins reworking the governor’s budget this week, special interests have already identified hundreds of budget items and other legislative proposals they intend to support or oppose during the session. These budget items and legislative proposals include higher medical assistance reimbursements to doctors, multi-million dollar corporate tax cuts and property tax exemptions, new alcohol regulations and a ban on ATM fees.

Who’s Courting the Sweet Sixteen?