Democratic Special Interest Groups Raise 5 Times More Than Republican Counterparts In 2019

Liberal-Leaning Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Leader Calls Fundraising Spread 'Astronomical'

Wisconsin State Capitol Reflection
Ann Althouse (CC BY-NC)

Pro-Democratic fundraising groups in Wisconsin have raised five times as much money as pro-Republican groups during the first half of 2019, according to an analysis by the liberal-leaning Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

In all, 36 different special interest groups received nearly $3.2 million from Wisconsin contributors this year, according to the review. That money went to tax-exempt political nonprofit groups that are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts on issue-based advocacy through mailings and advertisements on TV and radio.

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Executive Director Matt Rothschild said their analysis found $2.7 million, or 84 percent, of the contributions from state donors went to groups advocating for Democratic-leaning groups. Whereas $497,600, or 16 percent, went to Republican-aligned groups.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“It’s unusual that the pro-Democratic outside groups are so outdistancing the pro-Republican outside groups by a factor of five,” Rothschild told WPR. “That’s kind of astronomical.”

The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund received around $1.3 million, according to the review. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said the group supports democratic and liberal candidates for legislative and statewide offices.

The national Democratic Governor’s Association got $570,165 in donations. The group, based in Washington, raises money to elect Democratic governors throughout the country.

Rothschild said the Republican Governor’s Association, which was a big fundraiser in Wisconsin during former Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure, only raised $50,000 this year.

The Republican Governor’s Association also isn’t spending as much in the state as it has in the past, Rothchild said.

“Now that Walker is not in office, the Republican Governor’s Association isn’t pouring money into Wisconsin yet,” Rothschild said. “They may be keeping their powder dry because the next governor’s race is three years away and it might be too soon for them to be throwing their money around.”

Rothschild said he thinks the main drivers of Democratic fundraising in Wisconsin this year have been concerns that Republicans will attempt to create a veto-proof majority in the state Legislature that could limit Gov. Tony Evers power. He said Democratic disgust with President Donald Trump has also been a factor.

“So, I think both things are going on,” Rothschild said. “I think in Wisconsin there has been a lot of disgust on the Democratic side about the power grabs by the Republican leadership in the Legislature and that’s helping them raise money as well.”

The only Republican-aligned special interest group that made the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s list receiving more than $100,000 in donations was the Republican State Leadership Committee. The Arlington, Virginia-based group supports conservative and Republican candidates running for legislative and statewide offices across the nation. The committee garnered $181,316 in the first half of 2019, according to the analysis.

A statement from the Repulican Party of Wisconsin emailed to WPR said the difference between Democratic and Republican fundraising efforts was to be expected.

“These figures come as little surprise considering liberal special interests were spending millions trying to buy a seat on our state Supreme Court earlier this spring. Liberal groups like these continue to spend piles of cash in order to buy seats for political allies who will push their extreme agenda on Wisconsinites. This is yet another reminder that the constant cries from the left about being outspent in elections have always been a myth,” the statement read.

A request for comment from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was not returned prior to the publishing of this article.