PAC, Corporate Contributions Hit Record $27M

July 2, 2019

Contributions from special interest political action committees (PACs) and corporations soared to a record of more than $27 million in 2018, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

PAC and corporate contributions nearly tripled in 2018 from the $9.1 million in PAC contributions in 2014. The 2014 and 2018 election years are comparable because both featured legislative and high-profile statewide races for governor and attorney general.

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The huge jump is a result of changes in Wisconsin’s campaign finance law in 2015, which were pushed through by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed by Walker.

The 2015 changes included doubling PAC contribution limits to legislative and statewide candidates, removing the limit on total PAC contributions a candidate may accept, and legalizing corporate contributions to legislative campaign committees and political parties.

The top recipients of the PAC, political party, candidate committee, and corporate contributions in 2018 were:

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $7.5 million;

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, $3.4 million;

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, nearly $2.1 million;

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, more than $1.1 million;

Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, $974,755.

The largest special interest PAC contributions in 2018 came from:

WEAC PAC, $312,675;

Operating Engineers Local 139 PAC, $253,089;

Wisconsin Realtors Association PAC, $235,400;

Wisconsin Laborers District Council PAC, $232,750;

Wisconsin Pipe Trades PAC, $190,500.

The largest corporate contributions in 2018 came from:

Charter Communications, St. Louis, MO, $52,000;

Herzog, St. Joseph, MO, a transportation contractor, $48,000;

Kwik Trip, La Crosse, WI, $43,000;

Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association, Madison, WI, $40,000;

Altria Client Services, Richmond, VA, a tobacco manufacturer, $39,659.