Business Giving To GOP, Dems Dwarfs Labor

GOP candidates get $4 of $5, Dems $2 of $3 in contributions from business interests

March 17, 2011

Madison Campaign contributions from business interests accounted for nearly $3 of every $4 accepted by Democratic and Republican candidates for statewide and legislative offices since 1999, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review shows.

Large individual and political action committee contributions from banking, construction, manufacturing, insurance and other business interests totaled $85.2 million between 1999 and October 18, 2010 – the most up to date contribution data coded by the Democracy Campaign. That is 72 percent of the $117.59 million in total large individual and political action committee contributions to partisan candidates during the period (see Bar Chart).

Business and Laobr Contributions 1999-2010

Meanwhile, labor union contributions totaled $6.98 million, or 6 percent of the total $117.59 million in large contributions. The remaining 22 percent of contributions totaling $25.41 million came from retirees, ideological interests, education and other groups not tied to organized labor or business.

Put another way, the ratio of business to labor union contributions for all candidates was $12 to $1.

By party, business interests gave more to Republicans than Democrats, but Democratic candidates accepted substantially more from business interests than many people would think.

Republican candidates accepted $49.14 million or 80 percent of their $61.66 million in total large contributions from business interests from 1999 through mid-October 2010 compared to $471,301 or 1 percent of their contributions from labor unions. Nonprofits, education, ideological and other interests not tied to organized labor and business contributed the remaining 19 percent, or $12.05 million.

The ratio of business to organized labor contributions for Republican candidates was $104 to $1.

Democratic candidates accepted $36.05 million or 64 percent of their total $55.93 million in total large contributions from business interests from 1999 through October 18, 2010 . Labor union contributions amounted to $6.51 million or 12 percent of their total large contributions.

The ratio of business to labor union contributions for Democratic candidates was $6 to $1.

The Democracy Campaign review also found the large chasm between business and labor contributions remained relatively consistent when comparing the six two-year election cycles between 1999 and October 18, 2010 .

For instance, campaign contributions from business interests to all Democratic and Republican candidates in each of the six two-year election cycles between 1999 and mid-October 2010 ranged from 68 percent to 76 percent of all large individual and PAC contributions. Labor union contributions comprised between 4 percent and 7 percent of their total large contributions (Table 1). The ratio of business to labor union contributions ranged from a low of $10 to $1 in the 2001-02 election cycle to a high of $17 to $1 in the 1999-2000 election cycle.

Among Republicans, campaign contributions from business interests in the past six two-year election cycles ranged from 76 percent to 83 percent of their total large individual and PAC contributions (Table 2) while organized labor gave them only 1 percent of their total large contributions in each of the election cycles. The ratio of business to organized labor contributions ranged from a low of $69 to $1 in the 1999-2000 election cycle to a high of $163 to $1 in the 2005-06 cycle.

Campaign contributions from business interests to Democratic candidates in the past six two-year election cycles ranged from 61 percent to 68 percent of their total large individual and PAC contributions (Table 3). Labor union contributions ranged from 10 percent to 14 percent of their large contributions. The ratio of business to labor union contributions ranged from a low of $4 to $1 in 2001-02 to a high of $7 to $1 in the 2005-06 election cycle.

The enormous disparity between business and labor contributions is due in part to the way those contributions are made. Most contributions from business interests come from individual contributors while most contributions from organized labor are made through PACs.

Over the years, the number and size of contributions from wealthy individuals in construction, real estate, energy, manufacturing, health care and other business sectors has outpaced PAC giving.

The continued growth of conduits, which were created to evade PAC contribution limits, has helped various business interests coordinate and target large amounts of campaign contributions. Conduits are groups used by special interests to bundle an unlimited number and amount of individual contributions in order to send one large check to a candidate. Individual contribution limits apply to conduit contributors but the conduit may seek, bundle and send an unlimited number and amount of individual contributions to a candidate.

There are limits on the amount of contributions that individuals and PACs can give to candidates depending on the office that candidates is seeking, but candidates are restricted as far as the total amount they can accept from all PACs in an election cycle.

Table 1
Business And Labor Contributions
To All Statewide And Legislative Candidates

Two-Year
Election Cycle
Business Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Labor Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Other Interest Group
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Business-
Labor
Contribution Ratio
2009-10* $18,780,353 (72%) $1,432,406 (5%) $6,002,505 (23%) $13 to $1
2007-08 $11,296,856 (73%) $1,073,428 (7%) $3,124,889 (20%) $11 to $1
2005-06 $20,529,722 (74%) $1,357,573 (5%) $5,828,402 (21%) $15 to $1
2003-04 $9,709,107 (75%) $869,807 (7%) $2,363,109 (18%) $11 to $1
2001-02 $17,225,536 (68%) $1,810,508 (7%) $6,130,405 (25%) $10 to $1
1999-00 $7,654,043 (76%) $440,406 (4%) $1,963,497 (20%) $17 to $1
TOTALS $85,195,617
(72%)
$6,984,128
(6%)
$25,412,807
(22%)
$12 to $1

*Figures represent contributions through October 18, 2010 , not the entire year or campaign cycle.

Table 2
Business And Labor Contributions
To Republican Statewide And Legislative Candidates

Two-Year
Election Cycle
Business
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Labor
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Other Interest Group
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Business-
Labor
Contribution Ratio
2009-10* $11,323,935 (77%) $109,873 (1%) $3,335,520 (22%) $103 to $1
2007-08 $5,549,191 (83%) $71,025 (1%) $1,087,894 (16%) $78 to $1
2005-06 $12,085,805 (82%) $74,345 (1%) $2,614,342 (17%) $163 to $1
2003-04 $5,110,953 (83%) $43,825 (1%) $1,024,116 (16%) $117 to $1
2001-02 $9,726,904 (76%) $95,240 (1%) $2,989,808 (23%) $102 to $1
1999-00 $5,344,837 (83%) $76,993 (1%) $994,286 (16%) $69 to $1
TOTALS $49,141,625
(80%)
$471,301
(1%)
$12,045,966
(19%)
$104 to $1

*Figures represent contributions through October 18, 2010 , not the entire year or campaign cycle.

Table 3
Business And Labor Contributions
To Democratic Statewide And Legislative Candidates

Two-Year
Election Cycle
Business
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Labor
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Other Interest Group
Contributions
And % Of
Total Contributions
Business-
Labor
Contribution Ratio
2009-10* $7,456,418 (65%) $1,322,533 (12%) $2,666,985 (23%) $6 to $1
2007-08 $5,747,665 (65%) $1,002,403 (12%) $2,036,995 (23%) $6 to $1
2005-06 $8,443,918 (65%) $1,283,228 (10%) $3,214,059 (25%) $7 to $1
2003-04 $4,598,154 (68%) $825,982 (12%) $1,338,993 (20%) $6 to $1
2001-02 $7,498,631 (61%) $1,715,268 (14%) $3,140,598 (25%) $4 to $1
1999-00 $2,309,205 (63%) $363,413 (10%) $969,212 (27%) $6 to $1
TOTALS $36,053,991
(64%)
$6,512,827
(12%)
$13,366,842
(24%)
$6 to $1

*Figures represent contributions through October 18, 2010 , not the entire year or campaign cycle.