Candidates Working the Fat Cats

$500-plus special interest contributions dominate races for governor, AG

Posted: June 15, 2006

Madison - Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green collectively raised $3 of every $4 in 2005 from contributions of $500 or more and nearly two thirds came in contributions of $1,000 or more, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

In the race for attorney general the two Democratic candidates and two Republican candidates raised about half of their individual contributions in 2005 from wealthy donors who gave $500 or more.

The WDC review found that Doyle raised $2.1 million, or 83.9 percent, of his $2.5 million in individual contributions in 2005 from contributions of $500 or more, and $1.72 million, or 68.9 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more (see Chart 1). Individual fundraising totals exclude self-contributions by the candidates.

Chart 1
Gubernatorial Candidates

Total 2005 Individual Fundraising: Gubernatorial Candidates

*Excludes any self-contributions.

Green raised $1.38 million, or 69 percent, of his $1.99 million in individual contributions from donations of $500 or more, and $1.04 million, or 52.4 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more. Green’s totals include individual contributions he transferred in 2005 from his congressional campaign account to his state account to run for governor.

The percentage of $500-plus and $1,000-plus contributions remains virtually the same when the money Green transferred from his congressional account is excluded from his 2005 fundraising total. Without the transferred cash, Green raised $929,042 or, 69.2 percent, of his $1.34 million in individual contributions from donations of $500 or more, and $699,611, or 52.1 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more.

In the attorney general’s race, the two Republican and two Democratic candidates raised between 44 percent and 56 percent of their individual contributions in 2005 from contributions of $500 or more. The four raised between 23 percent and 42 percent of their individual contributions from donations of $1,000 or more in 2005.

Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager raised $143,301, or 56.3 percent, of her $254,447 in large individual contributions from donations of $500 or more, and $105,800, or 41.6 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more. Her Democratic primary opponent, Kathleen Falk, raised $151,817, or 49.8 percent, of her $305,056 in individual contributions in 2005 from contributions of $500 or more. She accepted $83,500, or 27.4 percent, in contributions of $1,000 or more (see Chart 2).

Falk, who declared her candidacy last November, had a higher ratio of $500-plus and $1,000-plus contributions if individual contributions she raised in the first half of 2005 when she ran for reelection as Dane County executive are excluded. For the last six months of 2005, Falk raised $141,317, or 55.6 percent, of her $254,197 in individual contributions from donations of $500 or more, and $79,500, or 31.3 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more.

Chart 2
Democratic Attorney General Candidates

Total 2005 Individual Fundraising: Democratic Attorney General Candidates

*Excludes any self-contributions.

Republican attorney general candidate JB Van Hollen edged primary opponent Paul Bucher in $500 and $1,000 contributions. Van Hollen raised $88,198, or 43.7 percent, of his $201,875 in individual contributions in 2005 from contributions of $500 or more, and $60,700, or 30.1 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more. Bucher accepted $84,150, or 44.3 percent, of his $189,840 in individual fundraising from contributions of $500 or more, and $44,500, or 23.4 percent, from contributions of $1,000 or more (see Chart 3).

Chart 3
Republican Attorney General Candidates

Total 2005 Individual Fundraising: Republican Attorney General Candidates

*Excludes any self-contributions.