GOP Lawmakers Received Millions from Real Estate Industry Amid Landlord Bills

June 18, 2019

Republican legislative and statewide candidates accepted nearly $5.8 million in campaign contributions from the real estate industry while the GOP-controlled legislature approved a batch of bills that favored landlords over tenants.

In addition to campaign contributions, the bills were sponsored by GOP lawmakers who were also landlords, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, of Rochester, according to a recent media report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The report said at least 100 changes were made to the state’s landlord-tenant laws since 2011 by the Republican-controlled legislature and former GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Some of those changes included preventing communities from enforcing tougher inspection ordinances, restricting fees local governments could charge for inspections, limiting tenant legal defenses and reimbursed legal fees, speeding up tenant evictions, and allowing landlords to dispose of tenant belongings immediately after eviction instead of storing the property.

Between January 2011 and July 2018, the real estate industry doled out nearly $6.8 million in individual and political action committee (PAC) contributions to legislative and statewide candidates, including nearly $5.8 million for Republicans. Topping the list of recipients were:

Walker, $3.3 million

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, about $305,170

Former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, about $298,300

The landlord-legislators cited in the Journal Sentinel report as sponsors of all or most of the bills and the contributions they received from the real estate industry were:

Vos, about $34,370

Former GOP Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, about $40,100

Republican Sen. Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, $26,435

Top contributors from the real estate industry between January 2011 and July 2018 were:

Wisconsin Realtors Association PAC, about $647,375

John and Kathryn Burke, of Milwaukee, owners of Burke Properties, $149,900

John Shaffer, of Chicago, Chairman of HAS Commercial Real Estate, $119,000.