Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's press releases and special reports cover issues central to our mission, including campaign fundraising, political corruption and more.

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Lawmakers Don’t Make Grade on Campaign Finance Reform

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said Monday that the Legislature’s penchant for partisan bickering and a lack of desire to reduce the flow and influence of monied special interest groups earns them "D+" grade on campaign finance reform efforts so far in the 1999-2000 legislative session.

Lawmakers Spend More Time Fund Raising Than Working on State Budget

Democratic and Republican legislators scheduled events this summer and fall to get Wisconsin residents to part with some of their money. One is pitching airplane rides, several others hosted golf outings, two of them went on the road with a comedian, one group organized a zoo tour and the others threw theme parties ranging from a pig roast in a park to a reception at a yacht club.

Senate Democrats, Assembly GOP Set Pace in Money Chase

Legislators and leadership-run campaign committees collected over $875,000 in campaign contributions in the first half of the year when state budget decisions were being made, according to an analysis of state campaign finance records by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

You Can Send a Strong Message

Many people are disgusted by the way money is corrupting government, but few realize there’s a powerful tool taxpayers can use to do something about it - checking the box on Wisconsin’s income tax form to support the State Election Campaign Fund.

Support for Election Campaign Fund Rises for Second Straight Year

For the second straight year, the number of taxpayers designating $1 to the state’s election campaign fund increased from the previous year, according to records the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign obtained from the state Elections Board. The income tax check-off provides funding used for public grants to candidates who agree to limit campaign spending.

Funding for Campaign Reform Survives Budget Process

The conference committee working to reconcile the Senate and Assembly versions of the 1999-2001 state budget agreed last week to include $870,000 in general tax funds to pay for any campaign finance reforms the legislature may pass this session.

Assembly Republicans Up Ante to Kill Campaign Reform

Last night’s action by Assembly Republicans to provide tax breaks to big-money political contributors and undermine the income tax checkoff that provides funding for public grants to candidates who agree to spending limits is another strong signal that the Assembly GOP caucus is intent on killing campaign finance reform, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Assembly Republicans "Stand in Schoolhouse Door" on Campaign Finance Reform

Today’s vote by Assembly Republicans to remove $750,000 from the 1999-2001 state budget for public financing grants for legislative candidates amounts to a partisan attempt to kill campaign finance reform, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Nursing Home Industry Contributions Distort State Long Term Care Policy

y shrewdly targeting campaign contributions to key legislative leaders and heavily investing in the governor’s race and lobbying efforts, Wisconsin’s nursing home industry has succeeded in tilting state long-term care policy toward institutional nursing home care, according to a study released today by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and AARP.

State Candidates Continue to Increase Personal Spending and Cost of Campaigns

Candidates for state legislative office in the 1998 elections set an all-time record for contributions to their own campaigns, including one candidate who dumped more than $100,000 into his own campaign fund to scare off challengers, and then took back the money, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Special Interests Have Contributed More than $733,000 to State Budget Writers

Nearly two dozen special interests made more than $733,000 in campaign contributions to further the careers of legislators who are now members of a powerful committee responsible for retooling the governor’s proposed 1999-2001 state budget, according to a new Wisconsin Democracy Campaign report.

Budget Writers Approve $750,000 in Tax Dollars for Campaign Finance Reform

The Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee has approved a recommendation by the governor to use $750,000 in public funds to help pay for campaign finance reform.

Thompson Spent $6.72 for Each Vote

Governor Tommy Thompson spent $6.72 for each vote he received in 1998, more than four times the cost per vote of his first campaign. By contrast his opponent, Ed Garvey, spent $1.47 for each of the votes he received, the lowest per vote cost of any of Thompson's previous challengers.

27th Senate District Home to Three Campaign Spending Records

The voters of the 27th Senate District endured unprecedented levels of spending on three fronts in 1998. Shattered records include spending by a single candidate, spending by both candidates and overall spending including that by outside groups.

Small Portioin of Tobacco Settlement Could Pay for All of Campaign Finance Reform

The WDC called on the governor to propose using a small portion of its $5.9 billion share in a multi-state settlement with the tobacco companies to fund campaign finance reform in order to stem the future influence of special interests like tobacco.

WMC Spent $414,979 on Phony 'Issue Ads'

On Eve of Historic Court Case, WDC Gets Partial Disclosure

January 6, 1999

Madison - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce spent $414,979 to influence the 1998 elections through its so-called “issue ad” campaign, according to figures obtained today by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Special Interests Making Their Lists and Checking Them Twice

As Wisconsinites head out for last minute holiday shopping, special interests are busy drawing up wish lists for the Legislature and the governor. "Santa isn't the only one getting special requests this time of year," said Gail Shea, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

What Happened in the 1998 Elections and Why

As we move toward the 21st century, Wisconsin has become the poster child for everything that is wrong with the way we finance campaigns.

Legislative Challengers in Big Financial Hole

The advantages of incumbency were highlighted again last week as candidates filed reports detailing their fund raising for the first six months of 1998. The bottom line: Wisconsin’s legislative incumbents are well-stocked heading into the 1998 elections. "It is the year of the incumbent," declared Gail Shea, executive director pf the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Campaign Reformers Chide Thompson for Inacessiblity of Information in Finance Reports

Despite all of Thompson’s talk about disclosure and his support for electronic filing of campaign finance reports, there is still no web site with contributor lists, no floppy disk provided to groups who will post the information, no improvement in disclosure at all.

Special Election Spending Sets New Mark

Campaign spending by the two candidates and several special interest groups in the special election last month set a new record of $689,325. The candidates combined to spend a total of $481,285. Special interest groups spent an additional $208,040 "independently" of the candidates. The previous record, set in 1996 when Sen. George Petak was recalled, was $661,958.

Buy a House?

Wisconsin’s real estate industry spent at least $1.4 million on campaign contributions and lobbying since 1993 to push proposals that often favor realtors and developers at the expense of home buyers, and conflict with environmental protection, the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported.

Incumbent War Chests Bulge to $4.4 Million

Incumbent office holders raised almost $2 million in the last six months of 1997. Those dollars pushed war chests to a whopping $4.4 million mark heading into the fall elections.

State Candidates Dug Deep Into Own Pockets to Run

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign today released figures detailing the huge amounts of money candidates sank into their own races for state office in the 1996 campaigns. "Sank" is the operative word as eight of the 12 largest self-contributors lost their bid for office.