The contributions flowed to so-called 527 groups between July and September, and the bulk of the cash — $3.4 million or 90 percent — came from just two dozen donors.
Coupled with contributions in the first 18 months of the 2013-14 election cycle, wealthy Wisconsin individuals, corporations, unions and trade and ideological groups have doled out a total of $9.1 million to 527 groups, including about $6.6 million to 527 groups involved in the statewide and legislative elections.
Topping the Wisconsin contributions was another $1 million from a Milwaukee couple — Mike and Mary Sue Shannon — to the Republican Governors Association, which has spent at least $2.1 million on mostly television advertising to support GOP Governor Scott Walker’s reelection bid. The Shannons have contributed a total $2.5 million to the national group since January 2013, according to reports the 527 groups must file with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
|Mike and Mary Sue Shannon|
On the Democratic side, Milwaukee philanthropist Lynde Uihlein and her Brico Fund doled out $888,000 to two 527 groups — EMILY’s List and the League of Conservation Voters — located in Washington D.C. The Brico Fund doled out $738,000 to EMILY’s List and Uihlein personally donated $150,000 to the league between July and September. Since January 2013 the Brico Fund and Uihlein have contributed a little over $1.3 million to 527 groups that back women candidates and environmental causes.
Six 527 groups that collected the bulk of Wisconsin contributions — about $3.23 million between July and September and $6.6 million since January 2013 — have spent millions of dollars on independent expenditures and phony ads in the upcoming statewide and legislative elections, mostly on the governor’s race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke.
Those groups and their Wisconsin contributions since January 2013 are: The Republican Governors Association, $4.05 million; EMILY’s List, $1.06 million; the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, $863,400, Republican State Leadership Committee, $372,382, League of Conservation Voters, $200,000 and America’s Political Action Committee, $65,000.
Up-to-date election spending by these groups is unknown because some of the groups engage in undisclosed issue ads yet to be tallied and the latest independent expenditure reports filed by the other groups with the state don’t have to be filed until the end of the month. Earlier independent expenditure reports showed the Republican Governors Association and Greater Wisconsin have spent $3.3 million.
The 527 reports to the IRS also showed the Republican Attorneys General Association gave $300,000 to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, which recently began airing television ads in support of GOP attorney general candidate Brad Schimel.
The most unusual contribution in the 527 reports was a $25,000 contribution by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, a longtime supporter of pro-business legislation and Republican candidates, to the Democratic-leaning Greater Wisconsin Political Fund.