Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Gov. Walker’s Fundraising Prowess
There’s no off-season for fundraising anymore, says Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit that tracks campaign contributions. “Fundraising used to be seasonal with huge spikes in even-numbered years. But now fundraising is nonstop,” McCabe says. “Governor Walker doesn’t ever stop fundraising.”
Governor Walker is still reeling in the dough from wealthy, out-of-town donors who spent millions on his recall election.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign examined contributions made during the first six months of 2013, and found that 78 individuals and couples, mostly from out of state, gave nearly $1 million to officeholders and candidates.
These high rollers gave at least $10,000 or more and 66% of them live outside of Wisconsin.
Governor Walker is the top beneficiary of this cash, taking in nearly 85% of it, $831, 573. Walker is followed by Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack ($80,000). Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch came in third and received $45,000.
“Looking at state officeholders, Governor Walker is in uncharted territory,” says McCabe. “We’ve never seen state officeholder so reliant upon outside money.”
The high rollers include a who’s who of donors to conservative causes: Dick DeVos of Amway fame, Robert McNair of the Houston Texans professional football team, Christy Walton of Walmart, and Todd Ricketts of the Chicago Cubs. Local business people, such as John Menard Jr. of Menards and Lawrence Gentine of Sargento Cheese in Fond du Lac, also gave more than $10,000 this year.
These donors reflect the amalgamation of conservatives who support Walker: corporate economic interests, ideological conservatives, privatizers of public services, such as education, and the religious right.
McCabe says this level of outside cash is unprecedented in the dairy state. “It used to be if we saw a candidate get 10% from outside Wisconsin, we’d make a big deal about it,” he says, noting that Governor Jim Doyle reached that threshold. But the recall changed everything. State senators who were targeted got one-third of their campaign cash from out of state, which was “off the charts,” according to McCabe.
And then Walker raised two-thirds of his funds from outside Wisconsin.
“We have never seen so much reliance on outside money in our political history,” says McCabe.
Walker’s windfall coincides with his national speaking engagements, adding to the rumors that Walker could be a presidential hopeful in 2016.
“He’s traveling the nation and constantly raising money,” says McCabe. “We see these few mega-donors. He keeps tapping into his fundraising base.”
When your base is made up of millionaires, it’s a well you can keep tapping.
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