Shipbuilder Contributed $15K to Electioneering Group Ahead of $31M State Grants

August 26, 2019

A northern Wisconsin shipbuilder contributed $15,000 to a group that helps elect Democratic governors shortly before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced a plan for $31 million in state support to help the company expand.

Fincantieri Marinette Marine made the contribution on Jan. 2 to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), according to a report filed by the group in July with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that showed its fundraising and spending for the first six months of 2019. This appears to be the company’s only contribution to the DGA.

About three weeks later, on Jan. 24, Evers said he would include $31 million in state bonding in his proposed 2019-21 state budget to help the company expand its shipyard. Evers and the GOP-controlled legislature ultimately approved a state budget this summer that gives up to $31 million in state grants to Marinette Marine.

The DGA operates as a so-called 527 group, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from any source on state and federal electioneering activities. The group raises millions of dollars each year from powerful special interests to support Democratic candidates for governor across the country.

Last year, the DGA spent an estimated $13,450,000 through a state group it created called A Stronger Wisconsin to support Evers, who defeated former GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Between January 2010 and July 2018, state campaign contributions from Marinette Marine employees, a political action committee (PAC), and a corporation totaled $9,550. Evers did not receive any contributions from the company’s employees or PAC during the period. Topping the list of contribution recipients were:

Walker, $3,000

GOP Rep. John Nygren, of Marinette, $2,200

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $1,250

Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $1,250.