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Record Spending by Outside Groups in 2018

Trophies Sitting on Steps

Posted: November 29, 2018
Updated: March 5, 2019 due to amended reports filed by the groups

About four dozen wealthy special interest groups doled out more than $60 million to mostly smear candidates during the 2018 fall legislative and statewide elections, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign preliminary review found.

Ex-DNR Employee Says Agency Was Pressured to Approve Big Donor’s Golf Course

Golf Ball

November 12, 2018

A former Department of Natural Resources employee says the agency was pressured to approve permits for a high-end golf course along Lake Michigan by the Kohler Co., whose owner is a major contributor to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Pro-Democracy Referendums Pass in Wisconsin, Elsewhere

American and Wisconsin Flags Over the State Capitol Dome

November 8, 2018

On Nov. 6, voters in Wisconsin and around the country demonstrated that they want more democracy.

Reported Electioneering Group Spending Tops $36M in Fall Elections

Faceless Figures Celebrating

November 7, 2018

About four dozen special interest groups reported a record $36.5 million in independent expenditures in Wisconsin’s statewide and legislative fall elections, according to a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign preliminary review.

Referendums on Fair Maps and $ in Politics in Dozen Wisconsin Communities

Ballot Box

November 5, 2018

On Election Day tomorrow, voters in a dozen communities in Wisconsin will be asked to weigh in on referendums dealing with banning gerrymandering or overturning the Citizens United decision.

Record Spending by Express Advocacy Groups in Wisconsin

Facelss Champions

Posted: November 1, 2018
Updated: November 20, 2018

This is a list of the record-breaking spending by independent expenditure groups in Wisconsin in this election, as of Nov. 1. Most of the spending has been for the governor’s race and the race for attorney general. Almost all of the rest has been for state senate and state assembly seats.

Record Outside Spending Set in AG Race

Burning $100 Bill

November 1, 2018

Outside electioneering groups have already spent a record amount on the 2018 state attorney general’s race.

Influence Peddler of the Month – Republican Attorneys General Association


Posted: November 1, 2018
Updated: November 15, 2018


This Washington, D.C.-based group, which raises unlimited amounts from special interests to help elect state GOP attorneys general throughout the country, has been the biggest spender in the 2018 Wisconsin attorney general’s race.

Two Legislative Races Likely to Exceed $1M in Reported Outside Spending

Dark Money in Spotlight

October 31, 2018

Reported spending by express advocacy groups is likely to top $1 million in at least two state Senate races. And in the Assembly, reported outside spending has exceeded $100,000 in four races. Here’s a rundown on the most expensive Senate and Assembly races for reported spending by outside electioneering groups as of Wednesday morning:

Guv Candidates’ Fall Haul Tops $15M in Two Months

Scott Walker and Tony Evers

October 30, 2018

The two major party candidates for governor accepted a combined $15.5 million in September and most of October – an average of about $266,500 a day, according to their state campaign finance reports.

AG Candidates Pull in $1.5M

Ballot Box with Dollar Bills in Background

October 31, 2018

The two major party candidates for attorney general accepted a combined $1.5 million in September and most of October, their latest campaign finance reports show.

Reported Outside Electioneering at $24M Led by GOP Groups

Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant on Stacks of Money

October 24, 2018

Spending by GOP outside electioneering groups outpaced Democratic groups about 2.5 to 1 as reported spending by special interests in the fall elections neared $24 million.

Republican Groups Have 8:1 Spending Edge in Gov Race

Faceless Figure at Podium in Front of a Pile of Cash

October 10, 2018

Reported election spending by special interest groups totaled about $13.7 million in the governor’s race, where Republican groups are outspending their Democratic counterparts by nearly 8 to 1.

Latest Campaign Reports Show GOP Legislative Candidates Flush with Cash


October 18, 2018

Republican legislative candidates had nearly three times more money in the bank than their Democratic challengers, according to campaign finance reports filed late last month.

New Group Plans to Target Republican State Senate Seats

$100 Bill with Pieces Cut Out of It

October 12, 2018

A Democratic electioneering group says it plans to spend $1 million on digital ads against at least four incumbent Republican state senators.

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

Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant on Piles of Money

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.

Outside Spending in Wisconsin Senate Races

Adding Machine

October 1, 2018

With five weeks to go before the Nov. 6 general elections here’s a look at where outside electioneering groups are spending in Wisconsin Senate races as of the end of September:

Influence Peddler of the Month - Democratic Governors Assocation

Democratic Donkey

October 1, 2018

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) plans to spend sharply more on electioneering activities this year than in any previous governor’s race in the Badger State.

Realtors Spending Big to Help GOP Sen. Roth

Realtors Open House

September 28, 2018

Four outside electioneering groups are spending nearly five times more than the candidates on a state Senate seat held by a GOP leader, recent reports show.

Walker’s Fundraising Gets $1M Boost from Lt. Gov’s Campaign

Scott Walker

September 26, 2018

GOP Gov. Scott Walker raised $2.3 million in August, including $1 million from his running mate’s campaign.

Evers Raised $1.9M in August

Tony Evers

September 26, 2018

Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers raised $1.9 million in August, including nearly a third from labor unions.

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

Faceless Figures Arm Wrestling with Cash

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.

Business Group Hails Wisconsin’s Conservative Justices

September 24, 2018

Three conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justices who scored well in a recent report by a coalition of powerful business interests received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from those trades.