Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JUNE 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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Money walks the walk

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker emerges from Tuesday's recall election with a personal mandate and a giant debt of gratitude to out-of-state, big money interests, Common Cause said.

Approximately $30 million of the nearly $65 million spent on the recall campaign came from "independent expenditures" by groups not directly affiliated with either Walker or Democratic candidate Tom Barrett. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision allows corporations and unions to use funds drawn from their treasuries to make such donations.

Roughly half of the independent money came from undisclosed sources.

Walker's campaign raised $30.5 million; Barrett took in just under $4 million.

Of the $34.5 million given directly to Walker and Barrett, more than $20 million came from out-of-state interests, according to figures compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. And all but about $1 million of that out-of-state money went to Walker.

Through April, the governor's top three donors combined to give him more than the Barrett campaign's total receipts. Four of Walker's top seven donors are out-of-state billionaires, including AmWay founder and former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who each gave $250,000. Adelson gained national attention this spring as he spent like a runaway gambler on Newt Gingrich's ill-fated presidential campaign, putting more than $16 behind the GOP hopeful. 

Walker had a smaller but still significant advantage in "independent" spending. When spending from all sources is considered, pro-Walker/anti-Barrett forces spent about $48 million compared with $19 million for anti-Walker/pro-Barrett forces, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Project.

Bob Edgar, the president and CEO of Common Cause, noted that Walker benefited from a loophole in Wisconsin's election laws that allowed him — as the target of a recall attempt — to accept unlimited donations. Barrett, in contrast, was bound by the state's usual $10,000 limit on gifts.

Mary Boyle
Common Cause

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