Road Builders Contribute More Than $600,000 to
Governor, Legislative Candidates

June 2, 1999

Madison - Highway interests led by the road builders contributed more than $600,000 to candidates for state office, including at least $235,671 to the governor and at least $26,625 to members of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, in 1997 and 1998, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (Table 1).

Campaign finance records gathered by the WDC show that road builders, transportation unions and other special interests with a stake in the state’s Major Highway Program made at least $543,588 in individual contributions to the governor, legislative candidates and legislative campaign committees (Table 2). In addition, political action committees that represent highway interests contributed an additional $58,063 to these campaigns.

These contributions and heavy lobbying by highway interests are part of a strategy to influence the governor, the Joint Finance Committee and the Legislature to approve the generous road building budget, which feeds the industry tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

Road builders and highway interests combine big contributions with high-spending, high-pressure lobbying to make themselves one of the most powerful special interests at the State Capitol. For instance, the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association spent $190,522 and logged more than 1,300 hours lobbying state lawmakers in 1997 and 1998.

"The average taxpayer stands to lose when road builder money and power dominate the major decisions in the transportation budget. They must make up the difference with higher taxes and fees when local road repair and elderly and disabled ride programs are short-changed because of special interest pressure at the Capitol," WDC executive director Gail Shea said.

Owners and employees of dozens of companies that benefit from state highway construction contributed thousands of dollars to legislative candidates and the governor. For instance, the owner and employees of 22 companies contributed more than $5,000 to the campaigns in 1997 and 1998 (Table 3).

"This is a prime example of the need for a campaign finance reform plan that would reduce special interest influence and limit campaign spending. Reform would help reduce the costly burden that taxpayers must bear when transportation and other important policy decisions are influenced by narrow, powerful special interests," Shea said.

Tables

Contributions to Joint Finance Members
Contributions to Candidates Totaling $2,000 or More
Contributions to Candidates for State Office

TABLE 1
TOTAL 1997-1998 CONTRIBUTIONS1
FROM ROAD BUILDERS AND HIGHWAY INTERESTS TO
MEMBERS OF THE JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE

NAME DISTRICT PARTY AMOUNT
Kevin Shibilski 2 S24 D $6,750
John Gard (Co-chair) 3 A89 R 4,350
Kimberly Plache 2, 3 S21 D 3,500
Marc Duff A98 R 2,000
Mary Panzer S20 R 1,850
Sheryl Albers A50 R 1,700
Russell Decker 2, 3 S29 D 1,625
Cloyd Porter A66 R 1,250
Dean Kaufert A55 R 1,000
Robert Jauch S25 D 950
Brian Burke (Co-chair) S03 D 700
David Ward A37 R 500
Antonio Riley 4 A18 D 350
Gwendolynne Moore 2 S04 D 100
Gregory Huber A85 D 0
Robert Cowles S02 R 0
TOTAL $26,625
1.Figures represent individual and PAC contributions for the period.
2.Member of the former Senate Labor, Transportation and Financial Institutions Committee in 1997-1998. Shibilski is presently a member of the Senate Insurance, Tourism, Transportation and Corrections Committee.
3.Member of the Transportation Projects Commission in 1997-1998. Gard remains a member of the commission this session.
4.Member of the Assembly Committee on Highways and Transportation in 1997-1998.

TABLE 2
HIGHWAY INTEREST CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES
TOTALING $2,000 OR MORE
1997-98

CANDIDATE PARTY OFFICE AMOUNT
Thompson R G $235,671
Marlow R S11 $18,636
Lazich R S28 $17,690
Mistele R S27 $14,495
Michels R S13 $14,450
McCallum R LG $12,846
Sodemann R S15 $12,250
Foti R A38 $9,638
George D G $7,750
Jensen R A32 $8,499
Gundrum R A84 $7,200
Robson D S15 $7,000
Fitzgerald R S13 $6,867
Shibilski D S24 $6,750
Manthey D S28 $6,400
Welch R S14 $6,800
Gunderson R A83 $6,075
Ellis R S19 $5,975
Nickel R A35-S $5,800
Schultz R S17 $4,820
Nus R S09 $4,600
Rosenzweig R S05 $4,450
Gard R A89 $4,350
Skindrud R A79 $4,075
Doyle D AG $4,050
Hahn R A47 $3,950
Moen D S31 $3,850
Schafer R A68 $3,700
Zien R S23 $3,675
Plache D S21 $3,500
Kedzie R A43 $3,350
Rhoades R A30 $3,251
Murphy, John D A42 $3,100
DeGroot R A05 $2,850
Stone R A82 $2,850
Seratti R A36 $2,800
Huebsch R A94 $2,740
Ladwig R A63 $2,650
Hasenohrl D A70 $2,550
Clausing D S10 $2,500
Townsend R A52 $2,500
Huelsman R S11 $2,300
Simons R A90 $2,200
Sykora R A67 $2,200
Spillner R A42 $2,100
Erpenbach D S27 $2,133
Lippert R A70 $2,000
Duff R A98 $2,000

TABLE 3
TOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES
OF ROAD BUILDERS AND HIGHWAY INTERESTS
TO CANDIDATES FOR STATE OFFICE IN 1997-1998*

COMPANY AMOUNT
Zignego Co. $32,263
Michels Pipeline Construction $24,720
Payne & Dolan $20,490
Edward Kraemer & Sons $19,966
Schneider National $13,975
Rock Road Companies $13,691
Lunda Construction $13,254
Mann Brothers Construction $12,296
Mathy Construction $12,235
Fabco Equipment Co. $10,875
Spancrete Industries $10,525
Hoffman Construction $10,477
Marathon Ashland Petroleum $8,633
Bulk Petroleum $8,300
U.S. Oil Co. $7,400
Tamarack Petroleum $6,696
H. James & Sons Inc. $6,677
James Cape & Sons Co. $6,243
Vinton Construction Co. $6,209
Genesee Aggregate Co. $6,091
James Peterson & Sons $5,700
Miller-Bradford Risberg $5,140
* Represents total owner and employee contributions, by company, of more than $5,000 in the two-year period.