Monday, April 17, 2006

Stepp One: Help Out The Influence Peddlers

WDC has frequently shown how wealthy, influential campaign contributors get special treatment from elected officials, but we recently found a favorable break of a different kind.

Republican State Senator Cathy Stepp has given back $23,700 in campaign contributions because she decided not to run for reelection this year.

The curious thing is who got their money back.  Many of the returns went to wealthy, influential special interests.

Stepp, a home builder, returned contributions from builders and school choice advocates.  They were mostly contributions between $100 and $1,000 that were made in 2005 before she announced October 3 that she would not seek reelection.  One contributor, Racine manufacturer Willard Walker, got back $1,000 for contributions he made to Stepp in 2003, 2004 and 2005.  

Wealthy out-of-state school voucher interests got back $3,700 in contributions, including Amway founders Dick and Betsy Devos of Michigan and Jim and Lynn Walton of Arkansas whose family founded Wal-Mart.

Missing from the list of returns are the numerous small contributors most of whom probably contributed to her because she is their state senator.
Retiring politicians can give back contributions until their campaign coffers are empty, donate the money to charity or contribute to other candidates down the road.  They cannot use the money to buy personal items.

It is unknown whether these donors asked for their contributions back or she decided to return them.  But Stepp raised $66,533 in 2005 and had an ending cash balance December 31 of $36,890 with no outstanding debt.

Why not float some cash back to your real constituents, Cathy?

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