Wednesday, October 12, 2011

'Hello David, Scott Walker Here. Just Wanted You To Know The Sky's The Limit....'

It can't be easy to get Scott Walker to take your phone call. Unless you are David Koch. Or at least someone Walker believes is David Koch.

A little under eight months ago, the idea of getting a personal call from a billionaire kingmaker was so exhilarating to the governor that he let himself get punked by some guy named Ian Murphy who runs an online news service called the Buffalo Beast.

Now that a drive to recall him from office is a certainty, Walker won't very likely be waiting for the phone to ring. He will soon be dialing up his richest supporters and making a pitch he has never been able to make before. Donate, pretty please, and give as much as you want.

Normally individuals can give no more than $10,000 to a candidate for governor. But a quirk in Wisconsin law lifts that limit for a period of time for targets of recall elections. Recall organizers will have 60 days to gather the more than 540,000 signatures needed to trigger an election. From the moment they file the necessary paperwork and begin gathering petition signatures to the time when an election is actually authorized, there will be no limit on what donors to the governor may give.

What just happened during the run-up to this summer's senate recall elections provides some indication of what to expect when Walker becomes the target. Normally individual donations to state senate candidates are limited to $1,000. But thanks to that quirk in state law, targeted senators received 368 contributions of more than $1,000 while petition signatures were being collected. Those donations averaged nearly $2,900 and totaled almost $1.1 million. The donors gave nearly $700,000 more than they would have been allowed to contribute if the normal legal limits had applied.

These above-the-limit donations went to senators in both parties. But because there were six Republican senators who ultimately had to stand before voters in a recall election and only three Democrats, more of the money went to the Republicans. Targeted GOP senators received 319 over-$1,000 donations totaling more than $981,000 while Democratic senators got 49 such contributions totaling just over $81,000.

Some of the donations were substantially higher than the normal limit for senate races. For example, Tamarack Petroleum owner Daniel McKeithan and his wife gave Milwaukee-area Senator Alberta Darling $31,500 and McKeithan also made $1,250 donations to Ripon's Luther Olsen and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse. Oconomowoc businessman Jere Fabick gave Fond du Lac's Randy Hopper $20,000 and gave Darling and Kapanke $15,000 each. Johnsonville Foods CEO Ralph Stayer gave Hopper $15,000. Darling also got $24,500 from Michael and Billie Kubly of the Charles E. Kubly Foundation.

You can bet Governor Walker will be getting a great many donations at least as large or even bigger during the holiday season.

The law that lifts campaign contribution limits for targets of recall elections makes no sense. State law restricts the size of campaign donations in an attempt to limit special interest influence over our government and prevent political corruption. Those purposes are no less important in recall elections than they are in regular elections. Letting recall targets operate outside the law that normally applies to campaign fundraising leaves us with winners of recall elections who are even more beholden to wealthy special interests than other elected officials already are.

The law allowing unlimited fundraising during recall petition drives can and should be changed. Legislation has been introduced as Assembly Bill 296 to do just that.

I'd love to see what odds the bookmakers in Vegas would give on Walker's allies in the Legislature passing this bill and the governor signing it some time in the next month.


Anonymous said...

Actually I'd like to see the Vegas over/under on money raised by Walker.

Anonymous said...

why not write about all the $ this ecall will cost or how much unions donate to dems?

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, the unions as well. Everyone can do it and so we are ALL going to get inundated with the garbage. I don't care which political positioning it is coming from -- this no longer is a democratic process. This is moneyed warfare and there is nothing fair about it.
Why are we no longer talking about revoking Citizen's United and stop this madness!? You and I, the poor folks who have not money at the end of the month (if it lasts that long) have no voice in this process except for our vote. I would like to vote to amend the constitution to make Citizen's United illegal.

Mike McCabe said...

A point of clarification.... We counted up a total of 368 donations of more than $1,000 to senate recall candidates, totaling $1,062,540. Of these, 319 donations totaling $981,486 went to the Republicans and 49 contributions totaling $81,054 went to the Democrats.

However, upon further review of these donations, we have found 93 totaling $173,066 that are listed on campaign finance reports as having been made jointly and are donations of $2,000 or less (which would be within the normal $1,000 per person limit on contributions to state senate candidates). That includes 69 joint contributions totaling $130,350 to Republicans and 24 joint donations to Democrats totaling $42,716.

That leaves 275 contributions totaling $889,474 made either by individuals or spouses jointly that are in excess of the usual limit ($1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a joint donation). That includes 250 donations totaling $851,136 to the Republicans and 25 donations totaling $38,338 to the Democrats.

xclvet said...

ALEC and the Koch brothers talk, Walker listens.

Ron Taxpayer said...

Thank God that even though there are morons who refuse to accept the result of the 2010 elections, a man with guts was elected governor. Cutting the "govt. waste" that is the abuse of sick days, pensions, benefits, etc. that the NATIONAL UNIONS "bargained" for (LOL!) is just one way that govt will begin to get back in line with the private sector that's been getting fleeced for decades! SMASH the recall efforts or bend over and pay for more govt union abuse!

Anonymous said...

Way to ignore that question about union money Mike. Unions have bought the Democrat party and you continue to ignore that big money in politics.

Mike McCabe said...

Go to the search engine in the top right hand corner of our home page and type in "WEAC" and hit search. Then tell me about how we've ignored union money in Wisconsin politics.

Then read this. Democrats get six times as much campaign money from business interests as they do from labor unions.