July 23, 2019
Corporate contributions to the state GOP and two Republican legislative campaign committees were nearly five times higher than the corporate contributions to their Democratic counterparts during the first six months of 2019.
Recently filed campaign finance reports showed the state Republican Party, Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, and Committee to Elect a Republican Senate accepted a total of $321,910 in corporate contributions between January and June.
During the same time, the state Democratic Party, Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, and the State Senate Democratic Committee accepted a total of $64,875 in corporate contributions.
The corporate contributions came from about 65 mostly businesses and trade groups that covered a wide array of special interests, including, agriculture, health, communications, alcohol, and business, among others.
The top corporate contributors between January and June were:
Charter Communications, a total of $32,000, including $12,000 each to the Republican legislative campaign committees and $4,000 each to the Democratic legislative campaign committees;
Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association, $32,000, including $12,000 each to the Republican legislative campaign committees and $4,000 each to the Democratic legislative campaign committees;
Alliance of Health Insurers, $26,500, including $12,000 each to the Republican legislative campaign committees and $2,500 to the state Republican Party;
Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, $21,000, including $12,000 to the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $5,000 to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $3,000 to the State Senate Democratic Committee, and $1,000 to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee;
Anthem, a health insurance company, $20,000, including $10,000 each to the two GOP legislative campaign committees;
Tesla Motors, an electric auto maker, $19,000, including $8,000 each to the Republican legislative campaign committees and $3,000 to the State Senate Democratic Committee.
Last month, majority GOP legislators inserted an item in the 2019-21 state budget that would have exempted electric auto manufacturers from state laws that bar auto and truck makers from selling their product directly to consumers or servicing their own product.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed the Tesla provision, which was also aimed at winning a vote for the budget from GOP Sen. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield, who sponsored similar legislation in the past and who owns a business that sells Tesla parts and salvaged electric vehicles.
New state campaign finance laws approved in late 2015 by the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker allow corporate contributions of up to $12,000 a year to each party and legislative campaign committee if they create a segregated fund for the money.
For more than 100 years prior to this, such corporate contributions were illegal. The 2015 law prohibits corporate contributions from being used by those groups for direct contributions to candidates or for express advocacy electioneering activities in political campaigns, but the money can be used for salaries of those who say which candidates should be supported.