Cable Bill Supporters Got 12 Times More Than Foes

November 9, 2007

Madison - State senators who voted for a controversial bill to change the way cable television providers are regulated in Wisconsin accepted $1.2 million in campaign contributions from special interests that support the proposal compared to less than $100,000 to senators who voted against it, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

The proposal, Assembly Bill 207, was approved 23-9 Thursday by the state Senate. The bill was chiefly backed by telephone giant AT&T which wants to break into the cable TV market more easily than present state cable franchising rules would allow. The proposal is also backed by business, manufacturing, broadcast and telephone interests.

The 23 senators who voted for the measure accepted $1.2 million or an average of $52,297 each in campaign contributions from special interest supporters of the bill (Tables) from 1999 through June 2007. That total also includes individual and political action committee contributions from those special interests to the two senate legislative leadership committees because the Senate’s majority and minority leaders, who control those committees, also supported the bill.

Meanwhile, the nine senators who voted against the measure accepted $99,507 or an average of $11,056 each from special interests that supported the proposal.

The figures do not include contributions to Republican Senator Dale Schultz, who did not vote on the proposal.

AT&T alone gave 28 times more in campaign contributions to the two leadership committees and 23 senators who supported the bill than to those who voted against it. The telephone giant doled out $108,146 or an average of $4,702 to each supporter of the bill compared to $3,825 or $425 per capita to the nine who voted against it.

The measure now goes back to the Assembly, which passed a similar version of the bill last May. The bill goes to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle if the Assembly approves the Senate’s changes to the measure. Doyle accepted $1.53 million in individual and PAC contributions from 1999 through June 2007 from the special interests who support the bill, including $69,475 from AT&T.


Contributions to BackersContributions to Opponents

Table 1
Large Individual and PAC Contributions
from Special Interests That Support AB207
To Senate Backers
1999 - June 2007

Breske, Roger S12 $35,627
Coggs, Spencer S06 $3,650
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate LCC* $116,768
Cowles, Robert S02 $1,950
Darling, Alberta S08 $111,898
Decker, Russ S29 $23,641
Ellis, Michael S19 $20,300
Fitzgerald, Scott S13 $62,502
Grothman, Glenn S20 $27,617
Hansen, Dave S30 $30,350
Harsdorf, Sheila S10 $104,348
Kanavas, Theodore J S33 $90,165
Kapanke, Dan S32 $112,423
Kedzie, Neal S11 $39,146
Lasee, Alan S01 $11,300
Lazich, Mary S28 $29,450
Lehman, John S21 $15,313
Leibham, Joseph S09 $129,397
Olsen, Luther S14 $7,665
Plale, Jeffrey S07 $41,955
Roessler, Carol S18 $11,475
State Senate Democratic Committee LCC* $103,886
Sullivan, Jim S05 $17,730
Taylor , Lena S04 $14,225
Wirch, Robert S22 $40,044
TOTAL $1,202,825

*Legislative campaign committee.

Table 2
Large Individual and PAC Contributions
from Special Interests That Support AB207
To Senate Opponents
1999 - June 2007

Carpenter, Tim S03 $6,367
Erpenbach, Jon S27 $16,761
Jauch, Robert S25 $9,300
Kreitlow, Pat S23 $14,806
Lassa, Julie S24 $14,810
Miller, Mark S16 $3,014
Risser, Fred S26 $2,550
Robson, Judy S15 $19,199
Vinehout, Kathleen S31 $12,700
TOTAL $99,507