Outside Electioneering Activities Top $13 Million, Led by GOP Groups

October 10, 2018

Reported outside electioneering activities topped $13 million led, by GOP groups that are outspending Democrats more than 4 to 1 a month out from the fall elections.

Republican express advocacy groups are outspending Democratic groups $11 million to $2.5 million, according to reports filed with the state Wednesday. The latest reports also showed total express advocacy spending on Wisconsin legislative and statewide races this fall has more than doubled in just two weeks.

Express advocacy groups sponsor broadcast ads and mailings that use the magic words “vote for” or “vote against” or their equivalents.

A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review of the reports showed the vast majority of the outside spending – about $11.3 million - was in the governor’s race.

Leading the list of reported group spending in Wisconsin legislative and statewide races was two Republican outfits backing incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who faces Democrat Tony Evers on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity reported $5.5 million in spending followed by the Republican Governors Association, which spent $4 million through its Right Direction Wisconsin PAC .

Rounding out the top three spending groups was the Wisconsin Freedom PAC at about $816,500. The PAC is being used by the Republican Attorneys General Association to support GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel’s reelection.

The WDC review of outside spending does not include unreported spending by phony issue ad groups, which smear or praise candidates without explicitly telling viewers who to vote for or against. Six issue ad groups – four Republican and two Democratic – are also spending millions of dollars in the fall elections.

Those phony issue ad groups are Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, Greater Wisconsin Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Republican State Leadership Committee, and Wisconsin Alliance for Reform.

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.