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.
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.