Big Donors Hedge Bets in Governor's Race

In this update: 1. Wealthy interests give to both Walker and Barrett 2. House committee to vote on Fair Elections Now Act tomorrow 3. TV ad spending tops $10 million in primary election for governor 4. Federal court upholds disclosure in Minnesota; Wisconsin rules remain in limbo Big Donors Hedge Bets in Governor’s Race

Email date: 9/22/10

In this update:
1. Wealthy interests give to both Walker and Barrett
2. House committee to vote on Fair Elections Now Act tomorrow
3. TV ad spending tops $10 million in primary election for governor
4. Federal court upholds disclosure in Minnesota; Wisconsin rules remain in limbo

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Wealthy interests give to both Walker and Barrett
The Democracy Campaign issued a report today showing that more than 300 big campaign donors hedged their political bets by making contributions to both major-party candidates for governor. Wealthy donors are fond of claiming that they give for the same reasons ordinary citizens chip in $25 or $50 to the campaigns of candidates they favor, namely to support office-seekers who share their views on key issues and to advance a particular philosophy of government. But a big hole is blown in that argument by their habit of double giving to candidates in the same race who have staked out very different positions on a wide variety of issues and who bear little resemblance to each other ideologically.

Check out our podcast for audio commentary on our findings.

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House committee to vote on Fair Elections Now Act tomorrow
The Committee on House Administration is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the Fair Elections Now Act, a plan to overhaul the financing of congressional elections by incentivizing small-donor fundraising as well as providing public funding. To take action, go here.

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TV ad spending tops $10 million in primary election for governor
Campaign spending in the race for governor reached eight figures well before the primary election, with TV advertising alone topping the $10 million mark by the September 14 primary. Through the end of August, the candidates had already spent more than $14 million on their campaigns, and the Democracy Campaign estimates outside interest groups spent upwards of $5 million in advance of the primary.

And now the serious campaigning starts as the general election approaches.

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Federal court upholds disclosure in Minnesota; WI rules remain in limbo
A federal judge upheld Minnesota’s new campaign finance disclosure law yesterday. The law was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in January allowing unlimited election spending by corporations and other powerful interest groups, and was responsible for provoking a public backlash against Target Corporation when it was revealed the company made a six-figure donation to help a candidate with positions contrary to Target’s publicly stated values.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Wisconsin’s Eastern District said earlier this week that he plans to wait for the state Supreme Court to act on a challenge to Wisconsin’s new disclosure rules before further considering a lawsuit filed by the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life seeking to have the rules overturned. Yet another federal lawsuit was filed in Wisconsin’s Western District, and there has been no word yet on how or when that court plans to proceed.