WDC recently found a surprise winner among political action committees that made contributions in 2005 - the Wisconsin Dental Association.
Wisconsin Dental PAC contributed $33,695 in 2005. That is the most they have ever contributed in a year, and their first time at the top of the PAC heap. They've rarely ever made the top 10.
A little digging found the dentists are spitting over a proposed rule that would let the state certify dental hygienists to clean the teeth of Medicaid patients without a dentist's supervision.
The Department of Health and Family Services offered up the rule because Medicaid patients have a tough time getting dental care in some areas. Dentists have long claimed they do not receive a high enough reimbursement rate from the program, so some people go without dental care.
Rather than give the dentists more money, the department decided to spread the wealth around and effectively expand dental service for the poor. The rule is still being considered by legislators.
The dentists are employing a common special interest strategy with their contributions: Play both sides. Most of the dentists' contributions have gone to the legislative campaign committees run by the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, the State Senate Democratic Committee and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee each received $6,000 in contributions and the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee snagged $4,300 - all in the first seven months of 2005.
Curious to see who wins this one. The dentists, or poor people who can't afford to contribute and dental hygienists, whose PAC contributed nothing last year and only $300 in 2004.