Money flows into Wisconsin for recalls — from in-state and beyond

Jul 6 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Direct donations to candidates running in the senate recalls provides a glimpse at the millions of dollars flowing into Wisconsin from political organizations.

The six Democratic candidates running in next Tuesday’s primaries — those backed by the state Democratic Party — raised a combined total of more than $1.5 million this year and have nearly $1 million in cash on hand.[1]

Here is the breakdown of fundraising reported by each candidate, broken down by district.[2][3]

Recall Fundraising Update as of July 6, 2011
District Candidate Candidate Type Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
2 Nancy Nusbaum Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $177,300 $133,682 $177,300
2 Otto Junkermann Protest $750 0 $750
2 Robert Cowles Incumbent $100,522 $62,168 $100,522
8 Sandy Pasch Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $431,302 $216,439 $431,302
8 Gladys Huber Protest $750 0 $750
8 Alberta Darling Incumbent $536,478 $401,382 $958,412
10 Shelly Moore Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $236,728 $91,587 $236,728
10 Isaac Weix Protest $1,200 $480 $1,200
10 Sheila Harsdorf Incumbent $217,566 $141,963 $327,733
14 Fred Clark Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $226,501 $163,197 $226,501
14 Rol Church Protest $750 0 $750
14 Luther Olsen Incumbent $72,376 $70,656 $107,111
18 Jessica King Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $221,932 $190,647 $221,932
18 John Buckstaff Protest $750 0 $750
18 Randy Hopper Incumbent $95,260 $92,461 $226,708
32 Jennifer Shilling Democratic Party (United States) Democrat $271,385 $156,634 $271,385
32 James Smith Protest N/A N/A N/A
32 Dan Kapanke Incumbent $545,604 $123,824 $725,913
TOTAL $3,137,154 $1,845,120 $4,015,747

Four out of the six protest candidates – Otto Junkermann, Gladys Huber, Rol Church, and John Buckstaff – reported $750 in donations and $0 cash on hand. Isaac Weix was the only one to report any cash on hand, while James Smith’s report was not yet available.[4]

The six incumbent Republicans combined to raise a total of $2,446,405.23, while the six real Democratic challengers raised $1,565,147.[5] The Wisconsin Democratic Party issued a release saying the donations were mostly “Low-dollar donations from ordinary Wisconsin citizens fed up with the extreme, divisive agenda of Scott Walker and his sockpuppet senators in Madison,” pointing out that average donations ranged from $19.27 for Nancy Nusbaum to $37.14 for Sandy Pasch.[6]

A release from We Are Wisconsin pointed to the differences between how much money the candidates have raised for the reporting period verses for the year, stating, “While many media reports suggest “GOP incumbents have raised more”, those analyses give incumbents credit for all fundraising, year-to-date, and do not account for either the Democratic surge in momentum over the last reporting period or the Democratic cash-on-hand advantage in many races.”[7]

Meanwhile, as was reported yesterday, We Are Wisconsin formed a PAC to channel donations under the presentation of increased transparency. Typically, as a 501c4 organization, We Are Wisconsin would not be required to disclose donors in a GAB-report. Because it formed a PAC, We Are Wisconsin submitted a report by yesterday’s deadline, detailing more than $4.5 million in donations. Roughly $3 million of that was from the AFL-CIO. Another $350,000 was donated by AFSCME-WI and another $1.1 million in in-kind donations from various organizations. Of the $4.5 million reported, a little more than $5,000 came from individual donors. Additionally, much of that money came from out-of-state-donors including Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, California and New York.[8]

With more than $4.4 million in donations coming from political organizations and institutions, the only true disclosure appears to be the $5,000 in individual donations. Thus, about 0.11% donations to the We Are Wisconsin PAC come from individual donors.[8] The remaining 99.89% of donations come from institutions and organizations like labor unions and 501c4 groups.[8] In essence, the funds from other 501c4 organizations like AFL-CIO are no more transparent than if We Are Wisconsin had not disclosed at all.

Beyond the outside money flowing into the recalls, an out-of-state signup sheet provides non-residents a chance to participate in the recall process in Wisconsin. This form allows individuals to either make phone calls or visit and volunteer for Democratic candidates.

Hansen vs. VanderLeest

Dave Hansen David VanderLeest

Less than two weeks remain until the first actual recall race, between incumbent Democratic Senator Dave Hansen and Republican challenger David VanderLeest. This week, an attack ad was released by the National Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. The 30-second spot focuses on VanderLeest’s past police records.[9] Additionally, a pro-Hansen ad was released.

One estimate placed the cost of the attack ad purchase in the Green Bay area at around $25,000.[10]

Around Green Bay, some voters have expressed confusion because of the geographic proximity of districts. Districts 1, 2 and 30 all encompass parts of Green Bay. Said Brown County Clerk Darlene Marcelle: “In my mind, it’s going to be confusing to the voters simply because they’re not going to be sure which district they’re in.”[11]

Voters in District 2 will be eligible to go to the ballots next Tuesday to vote in the Democratic primary between Otto Junkermann and Nancy Nusbaum. “My goal to run is only to beat her, that’s all,” Junkermann said.[11]

The winner of that race will face incumbent Republican Robert Cowles on August 9. Voters in District 30 will go to the polls on July 19 to choose between incumbent Hansen and VanderLeest. Meanwhile, citizens in District 1 need not head to the polls at all — Frank Lasee (R) is not up for recall.[11]

In some parts of town, neighbors across the street from one another will be voting in different races — and on different days. Marenger said the recalls will cost between $60,000 and $70,000.[11]

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