Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has raised more than $25 million since January 2011 – two thirds of it from out-of-state donors.
Wisconsin state law typically caps direct donations to gubernatorial candidates at $10,000, but allows recall targets to collect unlimited amounts of contributions from the day a group registers against them until the state Government Accountability Board schedules the elections. The first recall committee registered with the board on November 4 and the board scheduled the elections on March 30. That gave Walker months to collect unlimited money to his campaign. The Democrats had to follow the normal fundraising limits because they were not the targets of a recall.
Campaign finance reports filed with Wisconsin state elections officials show Walker collected $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and April 23. He spent $10 million over the period and had $4.8 million on hand. He has received at least $1.3 million in recall campaign contributions from donors who attended secretive right-wing fundraisers organized by Charles and David Koch, a Center for Media and Democracy analysis shows (including $100,000 from Rick Santorum’s billionaire, Foster Friess). The Koch brothers are funding Walker through their front group, Americans For Prosperity.
Conservative billionaire Diane Hendricks gave Walker $500,000. Hendricks co-founded Beloit-based ABC Supply, a roofing wholesaler and siding distributor, with her husband, Ken, who died in a 2007 fall. Also giving $500,000 was Bob Perry, owner of Houston-based Perry Homes and a chief backer of the Swift Boat Veterans ads against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 race for president.
Walker received two $250,000 donations in the latest reporting period: one from Las Vegas Sands president Sheldon Adelson (Newt Gingrich’s biggest supporter) and Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway Corp. and owner of the Orlando Magic. DeVos has been active in the school voucher movement, and Walker last year expanded Milwaukee’s voucher program and established a similar one in eastern Racine County.
Giving Walker $100,000 each were: John Childs of Massachusetts, chairman of private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates; Warren Stephens of Arkansas, chairman of financial services company Stephens Inc.; Robert Kern, founder of Waukesha power-generating firm Generac; his wife, Patricia Kern; and Patrick Ryan of Illinois, CEO of insurance firm Ryan Specialty Group.