Almost $44 million was pumped into Wis. special elections
Summer recalls targeting six Republicans and three Democrats attracted $43.9 million in spending from special interest groups and candidates, with Democrats outspending Republicans by almost $3 million, according to an analysis from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
The spending broke a number of state records for spending in legislative races. It also surpassed earlier spending predictions—Common Cause Wisconsin predicted the races might attract up to $30 million in August.
The biggest spenders were outside special interest groups. The We Are Wisconsin PAC, which is made up of unions, spent $10.7 million, edging out the conservative Club for Growth’s $9 million.
Many of the spenders, like the Club for Growth, were organized under new rules put in place by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that don’t require them to disclose where their funding comes from. The flood of open money in the state has led open government advocates to push for better disclosure requirements.
Republican candidates spent $4 million, according to the analysis, while Democrats spent slightly less.
The most expensive campaign came in Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District, where incumbent Republican Sen. Alberta Darling fought off her Democratic challenger at a total cost of $10 million.
Group Amount We Are Wisconsin PAC $10,746,194 Club for Growth Wisconsin* $9,000,000 Greater Wisconsin Committee** $4,000,000 Citizens for a Strong America* $1,700,000 American Federation for Children** $1,300,000 Progressive Change Campaign Committee & Democracy for America** $1,300,000 Wisconsin Family Action* $850,000 Republican State Leadership Committee** $800,000 Americans for Prosperity* $800,000 Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce* $700,000 Wisconsin Senate Democrats $500,000 Wisconsin Education Association Council PAC $499,391 Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee** $400,000 Presidential Coalition* $400,000 Wisconsin WOMEN VOTE! $264,845 Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin $173,601 People for the American Way $167,119 MoveOn.org Political Action Wisconsin Independent Expenditure Committee $134,993 Jobs First Coalition* $100,000 Citizen Action of Wisconsin $90,896 Wisconsin State AFL – CIO* $85,000 Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters $81,499 Volunteers for Agriculture PAC $79,545 State Government Leadership Foundation* $50,000 National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund PAC $40,411 GOPAC Wisconsin $38,608 Working America $37,715 Wisconsin Sierra Club Education Committee $31,328 Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama PAC $25,000 Our Country Deserves Better $25,000 Winnebagoland Uniserv PAC $15,010 NAACP National Voter Fund $14,990 Faith Family Freedom Fund $12,365 Wisconsin Right to Life $10,564 Voces de la Frontera Action Committee $10,018 Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Defense Fund $3,654 National Federation of Independent Business SAFE Trust PAC $2,277 Irreverent Contingent $1,150 Friends of Ann Schmidt $253 Wisconsin Recall Initiative $150 TOTAL $34,491,576 *Phony issue ad group and estimated spending.
**Estimated phony issue ad and independent expenditure spending.