Two Violate $10,000 Contribution Limit in 2007

Pair exceeded the limit in the past and got slap on the wrist

April 16, 2008

Madison - Two wealthy contributors violated the state’s $10,000 annual limit on campaign contributions to state political candidates and committees in 2007 – the second time for each, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review of state campaign finance records shows.

John C. Brogan, of Green Bay, a generous, longtime contributor to Democratic candidates and owner of Wisconsin Converting which manufactures packaging materials, contributed $12,500 to state candidates in 2007 (see Table).

Patricia Kern, of Waukesha, a major, longtime backer of Republican candidates who owns Generac Power Systems with her husband, contributed $10,600 to state candidates in 2007 (see Table).

Both Brogan and Kern were big donors in the past two Supreme Court races with Brogan contributing $5,000 to incumbent Justice Louis Butler and $3,000 to candidate Linda Clifford. Butler lost in the 2008 race and Clifford lost in the 2007 race. Kern contributed $10,000 to Annette Ziegler, who defeated Clifford to win a seat on the bench.

Both contributors also have something else in common – they have exceeded the $10,000 annual limit in the past and received little or no reprimand from the now-defunct State Elections Board which routinely let wealthy campaign contributors off the hook.

Kern was fined $250 for exceeding the limit in 2006 when she contributed $11,500 to state candidates, and Brogan was not fined when he exceeded the limit in 2002 for contributing $10,500. State law allows those who violate the $10,000 contribution limit to be fined $500 plus triple the amount by which they exceed the limit.

The partisan board of political appointees was replaced earlier this year with the Government Accountability Board made up of retired judges who by law are required to be nonpartisan.

Contribution Limit Violators in 2007

Contributor Date Candidate Amount
John C. Brogan
Green Bay
10/29/07 Louis Butler Jr $5,000
9/24/07 Thomas Nelson $500
6/4/07 Jim Soletski $500
5/4/07 Dave Hansen $1,000
1/5/07 Jim Doyle $2,500
1/2/07 Linda Clifford $3,000
Total $12,500
Contributor Date Candidate Amount
Patricia Kern
12/31/07 Michael Huebsch $500
12/27/07 Stephen Nass $100
2/5/07 Annette Ziegler $10,000
Total $10,600