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We Are Wisconsin raises $9.7 million, asks other groups to disclose donors

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August 4, 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

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2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

MADISON, Wisconsin: We Are Wisconsin, a nonpartisan coalition of union and labor groups that has been a key player in the Wisconsin Senate recalls, earlier this year established a PAC with the goal of being transparent with respect to its funding.

On Tuesday We Are Wisconsin issued a media memo calling on organizations to disclose their donors. The memo states:[1]

While We Are Wisconsin operates with GAB full disclosure, AFP and CFG have systematically operated in a manner designed to eliminate any transparency regarding their financing.

Reporting donors implies knowing who the exact individual is that made a contribution. Of the $4,769,893.49 raised by We Are Wisconsin between July 1-25, $21,054.31 are contributions from 640 individual donors who have an average donation of $32.89. The remaining $4.7 million come from other organizations like AFL-CIO, AFT Wisconsin COPE and AFSCME. Those organizations are not required to reveal their donors. Thus, of the $4.769 million, We Are Wisconsin is disclosing less than 1% of its donors. The remaining 99% comes from organizations that prior to making a contribution to We Are Wisconsin, do not identify their contributors.

Fourteen organizations are responsible for the rest of the money contributed to We Are Wisconsin. Three of the organizations - SEIU, American Federation of Teachers, and UFCW - had donations from their national headquarters in Washington DC and from a local chapter in Wisconsin. The AFSCME included donations from the national headquarters in DC as well as a local chapter in Springfield, Illinois. Here is a breakdown of the donations:

Organizations donating to We Are Wisconsin July 1 - 25
Donor Monetary donations In-Kind donations Total
AFL-CIO $1,913,926.39 - $1,913,926.39
AFSCME $800,000.00 $460,082.30 $1,260,082.30
SEIU $501,729.18 $197,418.07 $699,147.25
American Federation of Teachers $500,000.00 $27,597.50 $527,597.50
WEAC - $81,000.00 $81,000.00
IAFF $80,000.00 - $80,000.00
MTEA $75,000.00 - $75,000.00
UFCW $15,000.00 $40,690.76 $55,690.76
WI PEOPLE Conference - $18,298.77 $18,298.77
National Education Association - $17,073.52 $17,073.52
DLCC - $14,407.27 $14,407.27
State Professional Education & Information Council $3,500.00 - $3,500.00
WI League of Conservation Voters - $2,358.42 $2,358.42
South Central Education Association - $707.00 $707.00
TOTAL $3,889,155.57 $859,633.61 $4,748,789.18

We Are Wisconsin filed a late contribution report showing they raised $1,366,428.47 during the last week in July, bringing their total for the month to $6.1 million. Similar to the previous report, two individuals gave $500 each, while the rest came from chapters of the SEIU, AFSCME, and other union groups, including ones from Ohio, California, and Minnesota.

The main GAB-2 reports provide a snapshot of funds raised and spent by WAW. Latest totals put donations for the year at $9.7 million, with $7.9 million in spending.

We Are Wisconsin PAC Reports (GAB ID No. 0501500)
Report Date Filed Beginning Balance Total Contributions (Expenditures) Cash on Hand
Special Pre-Election[2] August 1, 2011 $2,332,604.95 $4,769,893.49 $(5,300,231.69) $1,802,266.75
July Continuing[3] July 11, 2011 $1,980,891.89 $9,596.05 $(8,977.90) $1,981,510.04
Special Pre-Primary[4] July 5, 2011 $0.00 $4,576,127.84 $(2,595,235.95) $1,980,891.89

While it is true that most organizations like Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity are not disclosing their donors, perhaps the question is what should be defined as disclosure. Is disclosure and transparency related to where every dollar came from? Or is disclosure and transparency knowing the intent of the organization. It is clear to voters which candidates Club for Growth supports -- and concurrently, it is clear to voters which candidates We Are Wisconsin supports. But is We Are Wisconsin being more transparent by revealing the millions of dollars it has received from big union groups in Washington DC? Or are these groups less transparent for not revealing the financial backing of their organizations? Either way, it is clear what the intent of the groups is -- to help elect the candidates the special interest groups are pouring money into supporting.

The huge swaths of money pouring into We Are Wisconsin serve as a snapshot of the unique situation surrounding the recalls. During the 2010 legislative elections in Wisconsin, outside interest groups spent a reported $3.75 million in the Senate and Assembly elections.

So in 2010, 99 assembly and 17 senate seats were up for election. In those elections, outside groups spent $3.75 million.[5] But in 2011, during recalls of 9 senators, outside groups have already spent more than $30 million and could spend as much as $40 million.[6]

The contributions to interest groups are not the only outlier from typical elections. Thus far, $5,254,184.37 has been contributed to the 12 candidates seeking election next Tuesday. To put that in perspective, there were 41 candidates that ran for election to the Senate in 2010. Those 41 candidates raised a total of $4,251,736. In 2008, 25 candidates raised $4,096,975.

Campaign contributions in Wisconsin Senate races

Year Number of candidates Total contributions
2010 41 $4,251,736
2008 25 $4,096,975
2006 52 $4,536,726
2004 55 $4,324,018
2002 51 $3,014,637

In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $4,251,736 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:[7]

Donor Amount
Public Fund $56,785
Galloway, Pamela G $45,131
Elmer, Monk $34,248
Richard, Rick $30,675
Hutchison, David E $17,699
Cmte to Elect a Republican Senate $17,226
Northwestern Mutual Life $16,000
State Senate Democratic Cmte of Wisconsin $15,767
Deutsch, Dane A $11,657
United Transportation Union $11,000

See also

References

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