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Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

Record $93M in Spending by Outside Groups in Wis in 2022

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 December 2022
in Wisconsin

money-behind-politicsReport finds spending by special interest groups in this fall’s legislative races in Wisconsin and for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer shattered the old record by 50 percent.


MADISON - Spending by special interest groups in this fall’s legislative races in Wisconsin and for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer shattered the old record by 50 percent, a preliminary review by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found.

The $93.01 million spent in 2022 by outside groups crushed the previous record $61.86 million set in 2018 for mid-term fall races that also featured both legislative and statewide contests in Wisconsin. And the 2022 spending figure was 154 percent higher than the $36.63 million spent by outside groups in 2014 and nearly five times higher than the $18.9 million spent on Wisconsin legislative and statewide races in 2010. (See chart below.)

outside-spending2010-22

None of these spending figures includes outside group spending in federal races for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate.

The lion’s share of the outside money in 2022 – $78.9 million – was spent on the governor’s race.

Six dozen special interest groups threw their money around to praise or smear candidates.

Thirty-five groups spent $48.25 million to benefit Republicans, 36 groups spent $44.06 million to benefit Democrats, and one group spent $686,660 to bolster the independent candidate for governor.

These electioneering groups fall into two categories – express advocacy groups and phony issue ad groups. Express advocacy groups, which make independent expenditures, must report their spending to the state. That’s because their broadcast and online advertising, mailings and other electioneering activities use the magic words “vote for” or “vote against” or their equivalents.

Phony issue ad groups, which can also raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, do not have to report their spending because of federal court decisions and lax campaign finance laws. These groups smear or praise candidates but without explicitly telling viewers who to vote for or against.

The top-spending groups, which doled out all or most of their money in the governor’s race, were:

Democratic Governors Association spent an estimated $20.1 million using a phony issue ad group called the Alliance for Common Sense which blanketed the airwaves with television ads attacking GOP candidate for governor Tim Michels on education, abortion, guns, and media reports about sexual harassment complaints filed by female employees of his construction company;

Republican Governors Association spent an estimated $15.3 million using three entities – Right Direction Wisconsin PACACC Wisconsin 2022 PAC, and State Solutions – mostly on television ads throughout the state that attacked Evers on crime and tax issues from July until Election Day;

A Better Wisconsin Together spent an estimated $6.8 million using an express advocacy group and an issue ad group with nearly the same name, making it particularly difficult to track spending by the issue ad group because it can keep its spending secret. All told, A Better Wisconsin Together spent money on television and digital advertising in 23 legislative races to support Democratic candidates, as well as the contests for governor to back Evers and attorney general to support incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul;

Americans for Prosperity spent $6.53 million on a host of electioneering activities, including canvassing, mailings, door hangers, and digital and radio ads to support Michels, GOP attorney general candidate Adam Jarchow, and Republican candidates in 19 legislative races;

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) spent an estimated $4.52 million using an issue ad group and an express advocacy group . Most of WMC’s issue ad spending was for television advertising that backed Republicans and smeared Democrats in the race for governor and two legislative contests. The group’s ads in the governor’s race attacked Evers on education, crime, and tax issues, and also blamed the incumbent for inflation. Early in the year, WMC spent about $25,000 on a digital ad to support GOP candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who lost to Michels in the August primary.

To see how much was spent by all of the outside groups involved in Wisconsin’s 2022 fall legislative and statewide races, please see the table below. For more information about the groups and their electioneering activities, please visit our Hijacking Campaign 2022 feature and click on their names.

A final report on the total cost of this year’s legislative and statewide elections will be issued early next year after the groups and candidates file amendments and year-end fundraising and spending reports.

Table
Spending by Electioneering Groups in the 2022 Fall Elections

GroupAmount
Alliance for Common Sense (Democratic Governors Association)* $20,150,000
Right Direction Wisconsin PAC (Republican Governors Association) $9,293,038
A Better Wisconsin Together** $6,794,866
Americans for Prosperity $6,531,490
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce** $4,524,998
Fighting for Wisconsin $4,378,114
ACC Wisconsin 2022 PAC (Republican Governors Association) $4,025,754
Wisconsin Conservation Voters IE Committee $3,818,779
Club for Growth Action $3,552,571
Future Forward USA Action* $3,400,000
Wisconsin Freedom PAC (Republican Attorneys General Association) $3,114,213
Freedom Wisconsin PAC $2,564,000
State Solutions (Republican Governors Association)* $2,000,000
DAGA People’s Lawyer Project (Democratic Attorneys General Association) $1,899,564
Sunrise in America Political Fund $1,866,844
The Wisconsin Initiative* $1,700,000
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin Political Fund $1,316,721
Republican Accountability PAC $992,584
Restoration PAC $935,000
Wisconsin RINO Hunters $686,660
American Federation for Children IE Committee $678,995
Wisconsin Alliance for Reform* $600,000
Jobs First Coalition Political Fund $529,201
Voces de la Frontera Action $463,892
National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund $423,653
Badger Values PAC $407,483
Wisconsinites for Liberty Fund $407,279
For Our Future $390,595
Power to the Polls Wisconsin $389,443
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Wisconsin State Council $379,647
WFP National PAC (Work Families Party) $334,575
Women Speak Out PAC $322,872
Wisconsin Realtors Political Fund $320,000
Family Friendly Action PAC $290,412
Republican State Leadership Committee $284,192
Project Democracy $278,650
The Lincoln Project $254,450
American Principles Project PAC $227,428
Wisconsin Family Action $225,875
Election Integrity PAC $208,344
Speak Free or Die $155,000
Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) PAC $141,688
BlackPAC $136,045
Make Liberty Win $135,491
New Prosperity Foundation $111,964
Working America $109,190
Empower Wisconsin* $100,000
American Majority Action $94,736
Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC $93,626
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Working Families Fund $92,585
New Prosperity Foundation IE Committee $85,500
Volunteers for Agriculture (Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation) $84,058
National Nurses United for Patient Protection $69,427
WorkMoney Inc. $68,939
Free and Fair Elections USA $67,740
Blue Sky Waukesha $61,215
Community Change Voters $61,149
NextGen Climate Action Committee $60,228
Leaders Igniting Transformation Action Fund $56,167
Patriots for Wisconsin $49,983
SEIU Committee on Political Education $49,606
Citizens Action of Wisconsin $45,691
Progress North $44,331
AFT-Wisconsin (American Federation of Teachers) $18,612
Rise, Inc. $15,373
Organizing Empowerment PAC $14,000
Rising Leaders PAC $10,000
Democratic Party of Wisconsin $5,560
Gun Rights America $4,701
Wisconsin Right to Life PAC $1,360
TOTAL $93,006,147

 

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Giving thanks for pro-democracy prospects here in Wis.

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 26 November 2022
in Wisconsin

thanksgiving-family-dinnerMatt Rothschild of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is thankful for 3 things in 2022 as far as the pro-democracy prospects go here in Wisconsin.


MADISON - On this Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve got three things to be thankful for, as far as the pro-democracy prospects go here in Wisconsin.

First, I’m thankful that Gov. Evers is still our governor, and that his veto pen still works. Robin Vos’s veto-proof majority failed to materialize in the Assembly, so Evers can still do what he does best: Blocking bills that would curb our freedom to vote, or blocking bills that would destroy our public schools, or damage our public lands, or deprive women of their most basic freedom to make their own decisions regarding their health care.

Second, I’m thankful for Law Forward, the great pro-democracy law firm that’s been around for a just a couple years but is already changing the legal landscape in Wisconsin in our favor. This group, founded by Jeff Mandell and Doug Poland and initially just with the amazing Mel Barnes as staff counsel, acts not only as a much-needed counterweight to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. It also pushes for fair maps, defends our freedom to vote, and demands accountability for those who violate our democracy. More than any other group in Wisconsin, Law Forward has demanded that the false electors in Wisconsin be investigated, and the firm has filed a civil suit against them, as well -- the first of its kind in the nation.

And third, I’m thankful for Civic Media, the new progressive radio network that is buying up stations all across Wisconsin not only to counter the dominance of rightwing radio but also to build civil dialogue at the local level, both of which we’ve been desperately needing. Growing out of “Devil Radio,” the flagship station in Madison founded by the irrepressible Michael Crute, it is now expanding rapidly, with the vision and resources of Sage Weil. Now with stations not only in Madison and Waukesha, but also in Amery, Richland Center, Wisconsin Rapids, and Wausau, with more to come, Civic Media is changing the sound of talk radio in Wisconsin, and it’s changing the politics of our state for the better.

So I’m thankful, this Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope you are, too.


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Gerrymandering and the 2022 Election in Wisconsin

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 15 November 2022
in Wisconsin

gerrymander-elections-redistrictingMADISON - In Wisconsin’s recent elections, we saw the ugly results of gerrymandering.

Gov. Evers won by 90,000 votes but still the Republicans gained more seats in the Legislature, coming within a whisker of a veto-proof majority.

And it’s not just because Democrats congregate in Milwaukee and Dane County, like Republicans like to claim.

Take a look at the Evers victory map. He won up in the northwest, taking Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland counties by about 57 percent each.

And guess what? Those Democratic voters of Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland counties now have zero representation in the State Legislature.

No State Senator, no Assembly person.

Why?

Because Robin Vos drew the maps not to abide by the county lines but to distort the districts by bringing in Republican voters from nearby red counties.

When he testified about the maps last fall, Vos admitted he “used partisanship” in drawing them. Basically, he confessed to the crime of gerrymandering.

But he bragged that it was legal, so we got to make it illegal.

matt-rothschildThere’s a huge grassroots effort in Wisconsin to ban gerrymandering. Already, 56 of our 72 counties have passed resolutions and referendums urging the Legislature to outlaw it.

And there’s a huge Wisconsin Supreme Court race coming up in April that will determine the ideological balance of the court. If a justice is elected who believes that gerrymandering undermines the will of the people, as guaranteed in our Wisconsin Constitution, then it’s possible that the Court could ban it.

Please go to fairmapswi.com to follow this issue and to see how you can help.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Gov Race Smashes $$$ Record

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 04 November 2022
in Wisconsin

2022-gov-raceMADISON - Obscene amounts of money have been flooding into the race for governor here in Wisconsin.

This money has shattered the old record, with more than a staggering $100 million being spent here on this race. Here’s our post on it:

Spending in Wisconsin Gov Race Smashes Record

For the details on the biggest donors to the campaigns of Gov. Evers and Tim Michels, see these items:

See Evers’s Largest Contributors
See Michels’s Largest Contributors

2022-outside-moneyAnd for a glimpse at the biggest spenders by the outside “independent expenditure” groups, see this posting:

Outside Spending Hits Horrifying New High

Enough already! We need to put a limit on all this spending because it’s not only splattering our screens with mud, it’s drowning out our voices.

Here at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, we’ll press forward on this crucial issue of campaign finance reform.

You can count on that!


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Wis. GOP’s Assault on our Democracy

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 30 September 2022
in Wisconsin

us-shame-2022MADISON - A coalition partner of ours at a group called American Oversight asked me to send them a statement about the assault on voting rights here in Wisconsin, so this is what I wrote:

The Wisconsin GOP’s Shameful Two Years

This week, we’ve also been tracking the big money in the governor’s race. Here are our two posts on Evers and Michels:

Evers Raises $4.5M+ in About a Month

Michels Raises $5.4M+ in August Mostly from His Own Pocket

A couple things concern me about these reports. For one thing, should Michels just be able to waltz in and buy the governor’s mansion because he has unlimited personal funds?

And as for Evers, do we really want all those out-of-state donors pouring their big money in? What right do they have to influence who should be governor of Wisconsin when they don’t even live here?

These reports highlight the need for comprehensive campaign finance reform so that each of us gets an equal say in who gets elected.

We’re a long way from that right now.

I hope you have a nice weekend (it’ll be nicer if you don’t watch all the ugly campaign ads on your screens!).


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