Legislators Ramped Up Cash Grab in ’05
Fundraising accelerates despite public’s growing distrust of elected officials
February 21, 2006
Madison - Legislators raised a budget-year record $3.39 million in 2005 and had double the money in their campaign accounts heading into this gubernatorial election year as they did eight years ago, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.
These figures and others gleaned from the latest campaign finance reports show state elected officials continue to ignore the growing public disgust over the role big campaign contributions from wealthy special interests play on public policy and spending decisions. For instance:
- Personal campaign committees raised $1.58 million and the four legislative campaign committees, which are used by legislative leaders to raise large amounts of money for election year spending, raised $424,907 in the last six months of 2005. Compared to comparable periods before a gubernatorial election year, legislative fundraising in the final six months of 2005 was 20 percent higher than the $1.67 million raised at the end of 2001 and 63 percent more than legislators raised in the last half of 1997.
- Legislators raised a total of $3.39 million in 2005, the highest of any year in which the state budget is considered. Since the state budget is the only bill the legislature must pass it is routinely used to milk special interests for campaign contributions in exchange for policy and spending decisions favorable to those wealthy donors. Compared to comparable periods before a gubernatorial election year, their 2005 annual fundraising was 77 percent higher than the $1.91 million raised in 1997 and 3 percent higher than the $3.27 million raised in 2001.
- For the year, the leadership-controlled legislative campaign committees raised $970,008 (Table 1), nearly breaking their 2004 fundraising record of $973,767.
- Legislators had $4.05 million in their campaign accounts at the end of 2005. Compared to comparable periods before a gubernatorial election year, that is 4 percent less than the $4.26 million they had at the end of 2001 and 101 percent more than the $2.04 million they had on hand at the end of 1997.
Top legislative fundraisers (Table 2) in the last half of 2005 were mostly legislative leaders who pick and craft the legislation that passes and freshmen who may face tough reelection bids.
Republican Majority Leader Dale Schultz was the top fundraiser in the Senate, as well as the Legislature as a whole, hauling in $113,158. He was followed by Republican Senators Joseph Leibham and Ron Brown, both of whom were elected in close 2002 races and face reelection. Leibham raised $79,071 and Brown raised $52,547.
In the Assembly, Republican Majority Leader Michael Huebsch accepted $64,319 in the final six months of 2005. He was followed by Republican Scott Newcomer who raised $54,799 and won a special election in January to fill a vacant suburban Milwaukee seat. Democratic Representative John Lehman raised $38,783 in his quest for a southeastern Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Republican Cathy Stepp.
Three Democrats and three Republicans from both houses had the highest cash balances, topping $100,000 (Table 3). They include three who consistently are among those with the highest campaign fund balances because they raise money but do not usually have viable challengers, and Schultz.
Topping the list was Republican Senator Mike Ellis with $198,971 followed by Schultz at $175,293 and Democratic Representatives Sheldon Wasserman at $170,873 and Spencer Black at $142,283.
The state’s five constitutional officers (Tables 2 & 3) collectively raised $1.37 million in the final six months of 2005. Most of that was accepted by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle who took in $1.16 million and had a cash balance of $4.21 million. Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager raised $148,163 and had a cash balance of $161,542.
In addition, the early challengers in the 2006 race for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general (Table 4) collectively raised $1.86 million in the last six months of 2005. Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green raised $712,562 and had a cash balance of $2.13 million at the end of 2005. Democrat Kathleen Falk led challengers in the attorney general’s race, raising $269,997 and ending the year with $432,308 in her campaign account.
All Legislators Listed Alphabetically • All Legislators by Cash Raised
All Legislators by Cash on Hand
|Legislative Campaign Committee||2005 Fundraising||
|Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee||$296,548||$44,209|
|Republican Assembly Campaign Committee||$214,241||$211,334|
|Committee to Elect a Republican Senate||$175,119||$75,301|
|State Senate Democratic Committee||$284,100||$109,221|
|Governor James Doyle||$1,164,865|
|Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton||$28,540|
|Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager||$148,163|
|Secretary of State Doug La Follette||$11|
|State Treasurer Jack Voight||$32,982|
|Dale Schultz R- Richland Center||$113,158|
|Joseph Leibham R-Sheboygan||$79,071|
|Ron Brown R- Eau Claire||$52,547|
|Scott Fitzgerald R- Juneau||$47,903|
|Ted Kanavas R- Brookfield||$36,312|
|Michael Huebsch R- West Salem||$64,319|
|Scott Newcomer R-Hartland||$54,799|
|John Lehman D- Racine||$38,783|
|Robin Vos R- Racine||$34,978|
|Jean Hundertmark* R- Clintonville||$31,845|
*Candidate for lieutenant governor.
|Governor James Doyle||$4,206,865|
|Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton||$34,137|
|Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager||$161,542|
|Secretary of State Doug La Follette||$10,717|
|State Treasurer Jack Voight||$50,013|
|Michael Ellis R- Neenah||$198,971|
|Dale Schultz R- Richland Center||$175,293|
|Russell Decker D-Schofield||$113,111|
|Joseph Leibham R-Sheboygan||$98,650|
|Mary Lazich R- New Berlin||$85,767|
|Sheldon Wasserman D-Milwaukee||$170,873|
|Spencer Black D- Madison||$142,283|
|Robin Kreibich R- Eau Claire||$109,100|
|Mark Gundrum R- New Berlin||$82,043|
|Dean Kaufert R- Neenah||$67,835|
|Kathleen Falk||Attorney General||D||$269,997||$432,308|
|Paul Bucher||Attorney General||R||$124,960||$129,236|
|JB Van Hollen||Attorney General||R||$101,348||$44,161|
|Jean Hundertmark||Lieutenant Governor||R||$31,845||$50,925|