Individuals represent broad sample of powerful special interests
June 26, 2007
Madison - Twenty-seven wealthy contributors violated the annual $10,000 limit on campaign contributions to state political candidates and committees in 2006, including a State Capitol lobbyist, a long time state and national Republican Party bigwig and business owners and executives from a wide array of powerful special interests, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.
WDC compiled the list based on electronic and paper campaign finance reports candidates and committees filed with the State Elections Board. The reports showed these contributors doled out between $10,100 and $17,250 each in 2006.
The list contains company owners and executives in the manufacturing, finance, agriculture, computer technology and real estate industries, among others. Eighteen of the 27 who exceeded the limit gave all or most of their contributions to Republican candidates and committees and nine gave all or most of their contributions to Democratic candidates and committees.
The number of contribution limit violators in 2006 was the second highest since 2002 when 39 individuals exceeded limit. It was also a sharp increase over the number of violators in recent years. There were 12 individuals in 2005, one in 2004 and four in 2003 who gave more than $10,000.
State law allows those who violate the $10,000 limit to be fined $500 plus triple the amount by which they exceed the limit. However, the outgoing State Elections Board routinely excused violators with paltry fines or no penalties at all. The Elections Board, which is made up of political appointees, will be replaced later this year with a new Government Accountability Board whose members – six retired judges – theoretically will be less partisan.
Those who exceeded $10,000 in contributions last year were:
- Charles E. Johnson, of Boca Raton, FL, contributed $17,250 to 28 mostly Republican legislative candidates over four weeks from late October to late November 2006. Little is known about Johnson because most of the campaign finance reports filed by the candidates did not contain any of the required information about Johnson’s occupation and employer and the others identified him as retired, self-employed or a consultant. A check of the street address listed in the campaign finance reports shows it is occupied by a real estate investment company called Arbern Investors.
- Duane Bluemke, of Oconomowoc, former chairman of US Counseling Services which provides equipment asset management services in the pharmaceutical and health care industries, contributed $14,850 to 10 Republican candidates, including $10,000 to GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Green;
- Jon Stryker, a Kalamazoo, Michigan architect who contributed $14,000 to five Democratic candidates, including $10,000 to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle;
- Anthony Bryant, of Waukesha, chairman of Century Fence Company, contributed $13,650 to 22 Republican candidates for statewide and legislative offices, including $5,350 to Green;
- William Barry, of Brookfield, owner of Speed Systems Incorporated which makes tools and accessories to install cable systems, contributed $13,175 to seven Republican candidates, including $10,000 to Green;
- Duane Foulkes, of Beaver Dam, president of Apache Stainless Equipment, contributed $12,500, including $7,500 to Green and $5,000 to Republican attorney general candidate JB Van Hollen;
- Robert and Patricia Kern, of Waukesha, owners of Generac Power Systems which make generators, contributed $12,500 and $11,500, respectively. Their $24,000 in total contributions went to 12 Republican candidates, including $10,000 to Green;
- Ted Kellner, of Milwaukee, chairman of Fiduciary Management a money management firm, contributed $12,000 to two Republican candidates and two GOP leadership committees, including $10,000 to Green;
- John Barth, of Milwaukee, chairman of Johnson Controls which produces dozens of automotive and building environmental and energy control products, contributed $11,000, including $10,000 to Doyle and $1,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker;
- Nancy Doane, of Menomonie, who owns the Chippewa Valley Bean Company with her husband, contributed $11,000, including $10,000 to Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and $1,000 to Democratic state senate candidate Patrick Kreitlow;
- Louis Gentine, of Elkhart Lake, president of Sargento Foods which makes cheese and snack foods, contributed $10,700 to three GOP candidates, including $8,700 to Green, $1,000 to Van Hollen and $1,000 to Republican State Senator Joseph Leibham;
- James Keyes, of Milwaukee, retired chair of LSI Logic Corporation which makes computer products, contributed $10,600 to two Republican candidates, including $10,000 to Green and $600 to Republican State Senator Alberta Darling;
- David Uihlein Sr., of Cedarburg, a Schlitz Brewing heir and former owner of Banner Welder which makes welding equipment, contributed $10,550 to five GOP candidates, including $8,500 to Green;
- John Burke, of Madison, Trek Bicycle president, contributed $10,500 to two Democratic candidates, including $9,000 to Doyle and $1,500 to Democratic attorney general candidate Kathleen Falk;
- Horst Rechelbacher, of Osceola, founder of beauty products maker Aveda Corporation, contributed $10,500, including $10,000 to Falk and $500 to Democratic Assembly candidate Ann Hraychuck;
- John Neis, of Madison, a director with Venture Investors of Wisconsin, contributed $10,487, including $9,987 to Doyle and $500 to Falk;
- Scott Tyre, of Middleton, a State Capitol lobbyist who represents cable and hospital interests, contributed $10,450 to 14 candidates and leadership committees. Most of his contributions – $8,100 – went to Democrats;
- Craig Leipold, of Racine, a member of the SC Johnson family and former owner of the Nashville Predators professional hockey team, contributed $10,350 to three Republican candidates, including $10,000 to Green;
- Carmelo Tenuta, of Kenosha, owner of Sports Physical Therapy & Rehab Specialists, contributed $10,250, including $10,000 to Doyle and $250 to Democratic Representative James Kreuser;
- Cindy Tang, of Platteville, founder of a software engineering company called Insight Industries and later renamed AVISTA, contributed $10,250, to three Republican candidates, including $9,500 to Green;
- Stephen Einhorn, of Milwaukee, owner of Einhorn Associates which provides financial services in the chemical industry, contributed $10,250, including $10,000 to Green and $250 to Republican Senator Ted Kanavas;
- Stephen Mills, of Kenosha, a Bear Realty executive, contributed $10,200, including $10,000 to Doyle and $200 to Republican Representative Scott Gunderson;
- Linda Wachholz, of Oshkosh, an owner of the Utica Energy ethanol plant, contributed $10,250 to 28 Republican and Democratic legislative candidates;
- Albert Nicholas, of Hartland, owner of the Nicholas Company, an investment firm, contributed $10,100 to three GOP candidates, including $9,000 to Green, $1,000 to Van Hollen and $100 to Kanavas;
- Michael W. Grebe, a Milwaukee attorney, president of the conservative-leaning Bradley Foundation and a major player in the state and national Republican parties, contributed $10,100 to six Republican candidates, including $6,500 to Green;
- Karen King, a Janesville homemaker and wife of former state GOP chairman Stephen King, contributed $10,100 to two GOP candidates, including $10,000 to attorney general candidate Paul Bucher and $100 to Representative Stephen Nass.