Wisconsin government sector lobbying

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Taxpayer-funded lobbying is government to government lobbying. Counties, cities, school districts, public facilities, and associations of public employees frequently use public funds to influence legislation and appropriations at the state and federal levels.

This practice is controversial because public funds are spent to lobby for an agenda not subject to direct approval by voters, and outcomes may be contrary taxpayers benefit.

2005-2006 Legislative Session

For the 2005-2006 session government sector lobbying was estimated to be at least $4 million:[1]

  • Madison: Spent roughly $30,000 lobbying the Legislature arguing against concealed carry legislation, against the marriage amendment and in favor of embryonic stem cell research, among other things. [1]
  • Dane County: Spent nearly $175,000 the session for issues such as more state money for county nursing home patients and arguing against the taxpayer bill of rights. [1]
  • Rock County: Spent about $6,400. [1]
  • Madison Metropolitan School District: Spent $133,000 on lobbying trying to get more tax money into the classrooms, fighting against revenue limits and against limits to local control. [1]

Conservation agencies

Main article: Wisconsin agencies lobbying

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is comprised of elected delegates who work with the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources to set Wisconsin's conservation policies.[2] The Department of Natural Resources funds the Congress, allocating about $90,000 a year to it.

Recently, a member of the Natural Resources Board has expressed concern over whether the Wisconsin Conservation Congress should be allowed to use state money to lobby the Legislature and take positions on issues of public policy. He noted that WCC's role is not to issue press releases or advocate before the legislature when the Natural Resources Board has not defined policy.[2]

The Congress is not required to register because it does not employ anybody for compensation to advocate on its behalf; those who do are volunteers.[2] This, among other reasons, adds to the difficulty in tracking government sector lobbying. It does, however, send out press releases stating its stances on issues and joins other groups in supporting or denouncing certain policies.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations

The following is a list of Wisconsin government sector lobbying associations by type:

Cities and municipalities


Emergency services

Public officials


Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 WISC TV, "Reality Check: Taxpayers Pay For Lobbying", February 21, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Lakeland Times, "NRB member challenges Conservation Congress", Decmber 31, 2009

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