November 9, 2017
A recent story in the Guardian identified seven U.S. billionaires in the so-called Paradise Papers investigation who dumped more than $350 million into super PACs to support conservative candidates in state and federal races during the 2016 elections.
In Wisconsin, three of the seven billionaires personally contributed $391,000 since January 2012 to GOP Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish, and Republican Rep. Todd Novak, of Dodgeville.
In addition, two other billionaires identified in the Paradise Papers, Charles and David Koch, did not make personal contributions to Wisconsin candidates. But contributions from Koch Industries’ state and federal political action committees and outside election spending from the rightwing, Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity totaled an estimated $5 million since January 2012.
Here’s a snapshot of these billionaires and their contributions:
- Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and his wife, Miriam, contributed $270,000 in 2012 and 2014, all to Walker. The Adelsons dumped $250,000 into Walker’s campaign in 2012 when he faced a recall election for his controversial plan to slash public employee collective bargaining rights. State rules allow recall targets to collect unlimited amounts of money from individuals and PACs for a period leading up to the recall election. Walker accepted another $20,000 from the Adelsons during his 2014 reelection campaign.
- Investment banker Warren Stephens, of Little Rock, Ark., owner of Stephens Inc., contributed $120,000 between 2012 and 2014. Stephens gave $110,000 to Walker’s campaign – most of it during Walker’s 2012 recall contest – and $10,000 to Kleefisch.
- Hedge fund manager Paul Singer, of New York City, owner of Elliott Management Corp., contributed a total of $1,000 to Novak in 2014 and 2016. Singer has been referred to as a “vulture capitalist” because he buys distressed debt from companies and countries and then pursues full payment of the debt in court.
The Paradise Papers is a special investigation by the Guardian and 95 media partners worldwide into a leak of more than 13 million files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens' company registries. The files reveal the offshore financial affairs of some of the world’s biggest multinational companies and richest individuals and how they seek to avoid taxes.