MADISON, Wis. — Earlier this week it was revealed Wisconsin’s richest man gave a secret $1.5 million donation to a group supporting Gov. Scott Walker before $1.8 million in tax breaks were approved for his business. Mere days later state legislative Republicans are circulating a proposal to hide even more information on the sources of their campaign cash.
“There’s a disturbing pattern of donors to Republican political campaigns faring better than those who don’t,” said Ross. “From selling out our public schools to benefit the private school voucher industry and ignoring the student loan debt crisis to overlooking environmental violations and giving our money to their friends with tax giveaways we need more, not less, disclosure about what these politicians are up.”
Under current state law, campaigns are required to disclose occupation and employer information for all donors giving more than $100. The bill proposed by Republicans Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt and Sen. Steve Nass would would quadruple the contribution threshold to $500.
Ross noted that the public disclosure of employer information was critical in compiling a One Wisconsin Now report that found businesses whose owners and employees donating to Gov. Walker’s campaigns and the Republican Governors Association receive a disproportionate share of state economic development funds from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Gov. Walker chairs the board that oversees the operations of WEDC, appoints 6 additional board members and hires key agency staff including the CEO.
He concluded, “Gov. Walker and his GOP legislative cronies are selling out the state of Wisconsin and they’d prefer to do it without public scrutiny. Preventing the public from knowing the affiliations of their big campaign donors would go a long way to helping them do it.”