Thu June 7, 2012
Recall: Wisconsin's most expensive election ever
The final tally for campaign spending on the recall election isn't complete yet. But campaign finance watchdog Mike McCabe says once it is it will be the most expensive election in the state's history.
McCabe directs the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. He says the final figure for the governor's race will be between $75 and $80 million double the record $37 million spent in the 2010 election. McCabe says 62 percent of Gov. Walker’s campaign contributions reported so far came from outside the state while Mayor Tom Barrett raised only 26 percent from out of state donors, "Most of that money came from people who couldn't vote in this election."
And McCabe expects that level of spending to continue in elections this fall. He says the deep pocket donors will spend that money because they expect a return on their investment from candidates in the form of government policies that will benefit them. He cites a recent report on the last legislative session that tracked $330 million in tax write-offs and government spending that flowed to donors who contributed a combined $24 million, “$24 million dollars went in and $330 million went back to those donors. You can't get that return on investment in the best bull market on Wall Street."
Some state legislators like state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald who just retained his seat in this week's recall say they'd like to see the system reformed but admit it's unlikely, "I am guilty of taking that money and my opponent Lori Compas same thing. A lot of the money that she was able to raise were small dollar donations from out of Wisconsin. It's just the nature of this kind of political dynamic that exists nationwide now."
Reform advocates like Mike McCabe say campaign finance reform isn't likely to be on the legislative agenda any time soon.