The Road Map to Political Influence

July 8, 1997

Road builders in Wisconsin contributed more than $134,000 to candidates for the state legislature and legislative campaign committees (LCCs) during 1995 and 1996 (Table 1). This makes them one of the top industry players in the political influence game in this state. As the legislature votes on a transportation budget in the $3 billion range, and decides issues such as gas taxes and the division of money between new road construction and maintenance of existing roads, you can be sure that the road builders are around the table. Small changes in these tax rates and program priorities can means millions of dollars in income for this industry.

Table 1
Contributions by Individuals and Political Committees
Associated with Road Builders 1995-96

 

Type of Contribution Amount
Individuals Giving $100 or More to Candidates $102,286
Individuals Giving to Legislative Campaign Committees $ 6,925
PACs* Giving to Candidates $5,550
PACs Giving to Legislative Campaign Committees (LCCs) $19,700
TOTAL $134,461
*WI Road Builders Assn PAC, WI Ready Mixed Concrete Assn PAC, and Transportation Political Education League.

Who gives these campaign contributions and who receives them is a road map of political influence that all citizens of Wisconsin need to understand.

Who Gives the Money

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has identified thirty-five businesses and three political action committees (PACs) as road building interests. Ninety-one individuals and family groups associated with these businesses gave 677 contributions of $100 or more to legislative candidates in 1995 and 1996 totaling $102,286 (Table 2). These large individual contributions represent 76% of the political money tracked in this study and are the major avenue used by road builders to funnel money into the political process. This is another example of the growing role of large contributions from individuals in state legislative campaigns.

Table 2
Individual Contributions of $100 or More
to Legislative Candidates by Road Builders
1995-96

Business Name Total Contributions
Payne & Dolan $17,450
Edward Kraemer & Sons Construction $10,150
Mathy Construction $9,950
Lunda Construction $9,550
Rock Road Companies $8,450
Fabco Equipment Inc $6,450
Northeast Asphalt Co $4,975
Mann Brothers Construction $4,750
Zignego Co $3,600
Hoffman Construction $2,950
James Peterson & Sons $2,950
Vinton Construction Co $2,350
Timme Construction $2,000
James Cape & Sons Co $1,950
Cicchini Asphalt Paving Inc $1,700
Amon & Sons Inc $1,550
Trierweiler Construction & Supply Co $1,500
FC Raemisch & Son $1,250
Pitlic & Wick $1,250
Scott Construction $1,250
Mashuda Construction Inc $900
Musson Bros Inc $775
Streu Construction Co $700
Wisconsin Road Builders $550
Dresel Construction $500
Monarch Paving $500
Reliance Construction Co $500
Senn Blacktop Inc $400
Appleton Asphalt $250
R&R Wash Materials $250
Lund Builders Inc $236
Biehl Construction $200
CC Linck $200
DC Burbach Inc $200
Kaiser Construction Inc $100
TOTAL $102,286

Individuals associated with five major road building companies provided $55,550 to candidates, over half of all individual contributions to candidates, and $4,925 to the legislative campaign committees (Table 3). These five companies are Payne & Dolan, Mathy Construction, Edward Kraemer & Sons, Lunda Construction, and Rock Road Companies. They are major road builders in Wisconsin and they are major contributors to political campaigns.

Table 3
Individual Contributions of $100 or More to
Candidates and Legislative Campaign Committees
by Major Road Builders
1995/96

Company Legislative
Leaders*
LCCS Candidates
Out-Side
District
Candidates
Inside
District
TOTAL
Payne & Dolan $4,950 $625 $10,400 $2,100 $18,075
Mathy Construction $2,300 $3,400 $4,450 $3,200 $13,350
Edward Kraemer & Sons $4,100 $400 $5,850 $200 $10,550
Lunda Construction $1,700 $300 $7,150 $700 $9,850
Rock Road Companies $3,150 $200 $4,700 $600 $8,650
Total $16,200 $4,925 $32,550 $6,800 $60,475

*including members of the Joint Finance Committee

The pattern of contributions from individuals associated with these five companies shows a sophisticated understanding of how the influence game is played. Very little of the amount contributed goes to their own representatives. Most is contributed to candidates who represent other people in the legislature and to those in legislative leadership positions. This pattern of giving -- to leadership and to candidates they cannot vote for -- is common among those seeking influence with the legislature. Why give to other than your own representatives if you are not seeking to influence their decisions? What better way of ensuring that your views are heard?

Who Receives the Money

When total contributions from road builders are looked at, the pattern of how the influence game is played is evident. Road builder contributions indicate a sophisticated system of punishing opponents and rewarding friends, steering money to legislative leadership and targeted races, giving primarily to incumbents, and hedging their bets by contributing to the legislative campaign committees of both parties in both houses.

State Senator Robert Welch, the leading recipient of contributions from road builders, received 39 contributions for a total of $6,700 (Table 4 at end of text). Senator Welch won election to the State Senate in a special election on September 12, 1995. However, the major contest for this seat was in the primary. His primary opponent was State Representative William Lorge, a leader in the fight against an increase in the gasoline tax during the 1995 session of the legislature. There were no contributions to Lorge in the records examined by the WDC. The road builders clearly play hard ball politics -- they punish their opponents.

Table 5 (at end of text) shows the list of candidates receiving contributions, and the totals by status of the candidate and political party. Every one of the 14 candidates who received at least $2,000 from road building interests are legislative leaders or were in targeted, high spending races. Only three of them (Petak, Soik and Silbaugh) lost their elections -- a 79% batting average. The road builders who contributed big money in these high profile races won’t be forgotten by leadership and the candidates they supported.

Incumbents received a total of $82,400 -- 76% of all PAC and large individual contributions to candidates. Incumbents are most active in raising money, they tend to spend the most money on their campaigns, and they are most likely to win their election contests. They’re safe bets for the contributor seeking influence. Very few road builders risk giving to challengers. Only one challenger, Lisa Soik, received more than $1,000 from the road builders. Sixteen challengers received contributions for a total of $9,636. Candidates in open seats and in special elections received $8,800. Incumbent state senators not up for re-election in 1996 received a total of $7,000.

Making contributions to legislative leadership, to the legislative campaign committees they control, and to the members of the Joint Finance Committee is a key facet of playing the influence game. The road builders contributed a total of $54,425 to these legislators and to the leadership committees (Table 6 at end of text).

Senator Chuck Chvala, Majority Leader in the State Senate, received $3,950 for his personal campaign committee and $8,600 for the State Senate Democratic Committee for a total of $12,550. Representative Steve Foti, Majority Leader in the Assembly, received $1,500 for his personal campaign committee and $7,600 for the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee for a total of $9,100. Representative Walter Kunicki, Minority Leader in the Assembly, received $4,150 for his personal campaign committee and $3,300 for the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee for a total of $7,450. Senator Mike Ellis, Minority Leader in the State Senate, received no contributions for his personal campaign committee -- he did not have an election during this period -- but $7,125 went to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. Senator Gary George, the leading recipient of contributions from the road builders on the Joint Finance Committee, received $3,100. Senator George was unopposed for reelection in 1996.

The road builders clearly believe in hedging their bets with legislative leadership by giving to both, even when they clearly prefer Republican candidates in general. Democratic leaders received a total of $26,800 and Republican leaders received $27,625. This is in contrast to the pattern of giving to all candidates, where the road builders give over twice as much to Republicans ($74,211) as to Democrats ($33,325). U.S. Taxpayers candidates received $300. (See Table 5)

Table 4
Individuals Contributions of $100 or More
to Robert Welch from Road Builders
1995-96

DATE CONTRIBUTOR CITY EMPLOYER AMOUNT
07/13/95 Bechthold, Ned W Waukesha Payne & Dolan $150
07/17/95 Kennedy, William E Janesville Rock Road Companies $200
07/24/95 Zignego, Daniel A & Lisa K Hartford Zignego Co $200
07/24/95 Waskovick, Roger & Shirley Green Lake R&R Wash Materials $150
07/26/95 Kennedy, Robert Janesville Rock Road Companies $100
07/26/95 Kraemer, David Madison Edward Kraemer & Sons Construction $500
08/04/95 Fabick, Jere C Madison Fabco Equipment Inc $500
08/04/95 Maples, Michael J & Mary G Manitowoc Vinton Construction Co $100
08/04/95 Mashuda, Clifford G Jr Princeton Mashuda Construction Inc $250
08/04/95 Timme, Henry N & Shari J Endeavor Timme Construction $200
08/04/95 Zignego, Michael & Cynthia Waukesha Zignego Co $200
08/04/95 Gehl, Paul & Carol Hilbert Lunda Construction $100
08/04/95 Kraemer, WmJ & Jennifer N Plain Edward Kraemer& Sons Construction $100
08/04/95 Linck, Chet & Karen Beaver Dam CC Linck $100
08/04/95 Lunda, Milton A & Lydia Black River Falls Lunda Construction $100
08/04/95 Mann, Richard A Elkhorn Mann Brothers Construction $500
08/04/95 Peterson, John M & Patricia K Medford James Peterson & Sons $100
08/04/95 Raemisch, Thomas F Waunakee FC Raemisch & Son $100
08/07/95 Cape, Wm R Racine James Cape & Sons Co $200
08/07/95 Grohskopf, Herman W & Diane R Fond du Lac Northeast Asphalt Co $100
08/07/95 Kraemer, David Madison Edward Kraemer & Sons Construction $500
08/07/95 Miller, Howard W & Leah J Fond du Lac Northeast Asphalt Co $100
08/07/95 Story, Darren D & Laura A Campbellsport Northeast Asphalt Co $100
08/07/95 Treimstra, Ronald J & Darcy L Green Lake Northeast Asphalt Co $100
08/07/95 Triemstra, Ronald J Green Lake Northeast Asphalt Co $200
08/07/95 Washkovick, Roger & Shirley Green Lake R&R Wash Materials $100
08/15/95 Mashuda, Clifford G Sr Princeton Mashuda Construction Inc $250
08/15/95 Vergeront, David J & SusanB Cedarburg Fabco Equipment Inc $100
08/16/95 Buglass, William G Deerfield Payne & Dolan $200
08/16/95 Mathy, Steven C & LeeAnn La Crosse Mathy Construction $100
08/21/95 Hoffman, David Black River Falls Hoffman Construction $100
08/22/95 Lunda, Larry Black River Falls Lunda Construction $100
08/22/95 Slifka, Richard & Marlee Black River Falls Lunda Construction $100
09/05/95 Cape, Chris Racine James Cape & Sons Co $100
10/02/95 Kennedy, William Janesville Rock Road Companies $100
10/20/95 Gehl, Paul Hilbert Lunda Construction $200
06/25/96 Zignego, Lisa Hartford Zignego Co $100
06/25/96 Zignego, Terry Delafield Zignego Co $100
09/23/96 Kaiser, Karen Portage Kaiser Construction Inc $100
TOTAL $6, 700

Table 5
Total PAC and Individuals Contributions of $100 or More
Received by Legislative Candidates from Road Builders
1995-96

Candidate Office Party* Status** Total
Welch S14 R I $ 6700
Brancel A42 R I $4850
Petak S21 R S $4700
Huebsch A94 R I $4550
Kunicki A08 D I $4150
Chvala S16 D I $3950
Breske S12 D I $3450
George S06 D I $3100
Musser A92 R I $3000
Skindrud A79 R I $2500
Soik S28 R C $2400
Silbaugh A46 R I $2200
Darling S08 R I $2100
Clausing S10 D I $2100
Fitzgerald S13 R N $1900
Panzer S20 R I $1800
Drzewiecki S30 R I $1800
Gunderson A83 R I $1750
Klusman A56 R I $1600
Meyer A95 D I $1600
Shibilski S24 D I $1600
Foti A38 R I $1500
Jensen A32 R I $1500
Travis A81 D I $1400
Weeden S15 R N $1400
Wineke S27 D N $1350
Dobyns A52 R I $1350
Ott A03 R I $1300
Hahn A47 R I $1250
Wieckert A57 R O $1250
Kedzie A43 R O $1250
Rude S32 R I $1200
Lazich A84 R I $1200
Gard A89 R I $1000
Plache S21 D S $1000
Johnson, S. A02 D C $900
Griggs S10 R C $886
Handrick A34 R I $850
Freese A51 R I $800
Albers A50 R I $800
Metcalfe S16 R C $800
Levanetz S12 R C $775
Plombon A68 D I $750
Schultz, D S17 R N $700
Schafer A68 R C $700
Gannon A53 D C $625
Hasenohrl A70 D I $600
Moore S04 D I $600
Kreibich A93 R I $600
Kreuser A64 D I $600
Springer A86 D I $550
Moser A87 R C $550
Moen S31 D N $500
Rosenzweig S05 R N $500
Zukowski A69 R I $500
Young, L. A16 D I $500
Powers A80 R I $500
Hoven A60 R I $500
Kelso A88 R I $500
Jauch S25 D N $450
Harsdorf A30 R I $450
Wilder A67 D I $450
Ladwig A63 R I $450
Cowles S02 R I $400
Johnsrud A96 R I $400
Ourada A35 R I $400
Brandemuehl A49 R I $400
Otte A27 R I $400
Schultz, Dave A13 R C $400
Plale A21 D I $400
Stone A82 R C $400
Schneider A72 D I $300
Ziegelbauer A25 D I $300
Walker A14 R I $300
Ryba A90 D I $300
Ward A37 R I $300
Olsen A41 R I $300
Carson A23 R C $300
Leinstock A33 T C $300
Adelman S28 D I $200
Wood A44 D I $200
Goetsch A39 R I $200
Linton A74 D I $200
Owens A53 R I $200
Lehman, M. A58 R I $200
Duff A98 R I $200
Vanderloop A05 D I $200
Vrakas A33 R I $200
Kaufert A55 R I $200
Green A04 R I $200
Beal A22 R C $200
Hutchison A01 R I $200
Plouff A29 D O $200
Anderson, J. A29 R O $200
Sykora A67 R C $200
Porter A66 R I $100
Sanders A05 R C $100
Buettner S18 R I $100
Hubler A75 D I $100
Zien S23 R N $100
Underheim A54 R I $100
Burke S03 D N $100
Reynolds A87 D I $100
Potter, R. A20 D I $100
Urban A99 R I $100
Ainsworth A06 R I $100
Nass A31 R I $100
Wheeler A31 D C $100
Seratti A36 R I $100
Riley A18 D I $100
Grothman A59 R I $100
Murat A71 D I $100
Jeskewitz A24 R O $100
Steinbrink A65 D O $100
TOTAL $107,836

*Key Party

R = Republican$74,211
D = Democrat$33,325
T = US Taxpayer Party$300

**Key Status

I = Incumbent $82,400
C = Challenger $9,636
O = Open Seat $3,100
S = Special Election $5,700
N = No Election $7,000

Table 6
Contributions to Legislative Leaders, Joint Finance Members
and Legislative Campaign Committees by Road Builders
1995-96

Legislative leaders and the legislative campaign committees they control are in bold.

Legislator/LCC Leadership Position Party Individual* and
PAC contributions
Senate Democrats
SSDC Legislative Campaign Committee D $8,600
Chuck Chvala Majority Leader D

$3,950

Gary George Joint Finance D $3,100
Kevin Shibilski Joint Finance D $1,600
Joe Wineke Joint Finance D $1,350
Bob Jauch Joint Finance D $450
Brian Burke Co-chair, Joint Finance D $100
Fred Risser Senate President D

$0

Total Senate Democrats $19,150
Senate Republicans
CERS Legislative Campaign Committee R

$7,125

Ben Brancel Speaker R $4,850
Mary Panzer Joint Finance R

$1,800

Robert Cowles Joint Finance R

$400

Mike Ellis Minority Leader R $0
Total Senate Republicans $9,325
Assembly Republicans
RACC Legislative Campaign Committee R

$7,600

Steve Foti Majority Leader R $1,500
Scott Jensen Co-chair, Joint Finance R $1,500
John Gard Joint Finance R $1,000
Sheryl Albers Joint Finance R $800
Sheila Harsdorf Joint Finance R

$450

Roburt Ourada Joint Finance R

$400

Dean Kaufert Joint Finance R $200
Total Assembly Republicans $18,300
Assembly Democrats
Walter Kunicki Minority Leader D $4,150
ADCC Legislative Campaign Committee D $3,300
Barbara Linton Joint Finance D $200
Spencer Coggs Joint Finance D $0
Total Assembly Democrats $7,650

*Individual contributions of $100 or more.