Six Wealthy Donors Give State GOP $255K

August 15, 2018

Six wealthy contributors, all but one of whom are from outside Wisconsin, have given the state Republican Party $255,000 during the past two weeks.

A recent campaign finance report showed the contributions, between Aug. 3 and Aug. 13, came shortly before the state GOP announced it would be running $500,000 worth of television and digital ads around the state. The ads, which begin Thursday, will support Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bid for a third four-year term. Walker faces Democrat Tony Evers on the November ballot.

The Republican contributors, who are all past donors to Walker’s campaigns, were:

Michael and Mary Sue Shannon, Denver, Col., $50,000 each. Mike Shannon is a managing partner with KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in travel and leisure businesses, and Mary Sue is a homemaker. The Shannons, who also have a home in the Milwaukee area, have contributed $160,000 to Walker’s campaigns and another $3 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA, which spent $18.4 million on electioneering activities to help Walker win his 2010 general, 2012 recall, and 2014 reelection campaigns, has already booked $5 million in ads around the state this fall to help Walker.

Harold Smith, Chicago, Ill., a retiree whose billionaire family founded Northern Trust Corp. and Illinois Tool Works, $50,000. Smith has contributed $35,000 directly to Walker’s campaigns.

Donald Zietlow, Onalaska, Wis., owner of Kwik Trip, $50,000. Zietlow, and his wife, La Vonne, have contributed about $60,100 to Walker’s campaigns.

Charles Joyce, Wellsville, N.Y., president of Otis Eastern Service and a state and federal Republican Party heavyweight, $30,000. Joyce has contributed $1,000 to Walker’s campaigns.

Jennifer Pritzker, Chicago, Ill., billionaire founder of Tawani Enterprises and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, $25,000. Pritzker has contributed $21,000 to Walker’s campaigns.

Another campaign finance report filed by the state Democratic Party showed it received a $50,000 contribution last week from Robert Price, of La Jolla, Calif., chairman of PriceSmart Inc. In addition to the latest contribution, Price contributed $280,000 to the state party during the first six months of 2018 and another $300,000 to the state party last year.

Until November 2015, when Republicans drastically rewrote Wisconsin’s campaign finance law, the most anyone could give to a political party was $10,000 per election cycle.