GOP Express Advocacy Groups Outspending Dems Almost 5 to 1 in Wisconsin

September 25, 2018

Republican express advocacy groups outspent Democratic groups $4.9 million to $1.1 million on fall legislative and statewide races through August, according to reports filed with the state on Tuesday.

Express advocacy groups run ads or publish material that use the magic words “vote for” or “vote against” or their equivalents.

Outside spending in the fall legislative and statewide races by special interest groups required to report their electioneering activities topped $6 million. Reports filed Tuesday with the state show Republican groups outspending Democratic groups $4.9 million to $1.1 million.

A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review of the reports showed the vast majority of the outside spending by independent expenditure committees and political action committees (PAC) was in the governor’s race – more than $5.5 million – through the end of August.

Topping the list of reported spending in the governor’s race were two Republican groups backing incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker and a Democratic group that is supporting Democratic candidate Tony Evers.

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity reported nearly $3.2 million in spending followed by the Republican Governors Association, which reported more than $1.4 million through its Right Direction Wisconsin PAC. Most of the spending by these groups has been on television ads attacking Evers.

Rounding out the top three outside spenders in the governor’s race was the Greater Wisconsin Political Independent Expenditure Fund, which has doled out about $379,300 on television ads.

The WDC review of outside spending does not include unreported spending by phony issue ad groups that don’t use the magic words “vote for” or “vote against” or their equivalents. Four issue ad groups – two Republican and two Democratic – are also spending millions of dollars in the fall elections, and much of it in the governor’s race so far. Those groups include Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, Greater Wisconsin Committee, and the Democratic Governors Association.

For more information about the electioneering activities and spending by all of the outside groups involved in the fall legislative and statewide races, go to the Hijacking Campaign 2018 feature on the Democracy Campaign website.