Millions on Hand in Governor Recall Race
Madison - Gov. Scott Walker raised more than $5 million in less than one month to fight off the June 5 recall against him, underscoring the fact that the election will be the most expensive in the state's history.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic challenger, raised $3.1 million between April 24 and May 21, an impressive total in a normal governor's race but still below Walker's unprecedented fundraising. Barrett has raised $3.9 million since joining the race March 30 and had $1.5 million available for the last two weeks of the race.
The Republican governor has raised more than $30 million since January 2011 and he has about $1.6 million on hand. The majority has been from out of state.
That means Walker raised an average of more than $178,000 a day for the latest period. He already has taken in more than 80% of the total amount spent by him and all other candidates and independent groups in the 2010 governor's race, when he beat Barrett. In that race, all groups spent $37.4 million, according to estimates by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said the fundraising reflected voters' enthusiasm for Walker's changes, such as a repeal of most collective bargaining by public employees that helped state and local governments save more than $1 billion but also sparked the recall effort.
"It is because of this tremendous success that voters continue to stand with Governor Walker," Matthews said.
The new campaign reports also show that Walker's campaign has transferred $100,000 to his defense fund in the John Doe investigation into activities during Walker's time as county executive.
The reports show Walker's campaign transferred $70,000 to the Scott Walker Trust on May 3 and another $30,000 on May 17.
That brings the total Walker has put in the defense fund to $160,000 in the past six weeks.
State law requires that the campaign get approval from donors before shifting their money to a legal-defense fund. Walker's campaign has declined to identify the contributors who OK'd the transfers.
Walker has said repeatedly that he and his campaign are cooperating with the investigation, which has led to charges against three of Walker's county aides, one former county appointee and a major campaign contributor. The two-year probe is led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat.
Officials are looking at an email exchange between Walker and a longtime campaign aide over a 2010 real estate deal. Sources said the emails were written in late June 2010 - a month later than earlier indicated - shortly before the project went out to bid.
Matthews, Walker's spokeswoman, said she had no comment on the transfers.
The spokesman for Barrett repeated the point that Walker is the only governor in the U.S. with a defense fund.
"If Walker really had nothing to hide, he could have saved himself a lot of money in legal bills by just releasing the emails to the public," said Barrett aide Phil Walzak.
Before either candidate turned in his report, Barrett told a crowd in Wisconsin Rapids on Tuesday that Walker was vastly out-raising him, but he believed he could win the race.
"They have mounds of money on their side," he said. "Here's what I want on my side - lines of people. He's got mountains of money. I've got you."
Barrett's campaign stressed that he and the governor were tied in how much money they had available for the final part of the campaign. More than 70% of Barrett's contributions for this period came from Wisconsin donors, his campaign said.
Walker has been able to raise so much because of the national appeal he developed with conservatives after his high-profile fight with labor unions last year and a quirk in Wisconsin law that allows unlimited fundraising by incumbents while recalls are pending.
Normally, donors can give a maximum of $10,000 to a candidate for governor. But donors can give any amount to defray expenses incurred from the time recall petitions are taken out to the time a recall election is called.
For Walker, that period ran for 4 1/2 months, from Nov. 15 to March 30. He continues to raise money above the normal limits for costs during that period.
Tuesday's report included six contributions to Walker above the normal $10,000 limit, including one from the richest woman in the world.
Christy Walton, a Walmart heiress active in the school voucher movement, gave Walker $50,000, the report shows. Forbes lists Walton as the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $25.3 billion.
The other donations above the usual limit were: $25,000 from Grant E. Nelson of Prescott, Wis., who heads a large foundation; $25,000 from Richard Uihlein, CEO of Illinois packaging company Uline; $25,000 from Fred Fehsenfeld, chairman of the executive committee for the Heritage Group in Indianapolis; $25,000 from Robert McNair, CEO of the Houston Texans football team; and $20,000 from Gary Reynolds, CEO of GMR Marketing of Delafield.
In addition to the reports due Tuesday, candidates for governor in the final two weeks of the campaign must file daily reports of donations of more than $500 within 24 hours. In those reports, Walker's campaign said it had raised another $800,465 between May 23 and Sunday.
The contributions over those five recent days included three outsize ones - $100,000 from Richard Pieper, an executive at Pieper Electric Inc. in Milwaukee; $50,000 from Richard H. Roberts, president of URL Pharma in Philadelphia; and $25,000 from Max Carney, chief executive officer of Midwest Insurance Co. in Springfield, Ill.
For his part, Barrett reported raising $261,735 in recent contributions. His two largest donations, $10,000 each, came from Ruth Kohler of Kohler and retiree Geoffrey Seaman of Portland, Ore.
Helping Walker is $3.9 million spent in the past month by the Republican Governors Association, according to filings by that group. The group reports its funding in separate filings with federal regulators.
Barrett also is benefiting from some outside spending. The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund reported to elections officials spending $2 million on his behalf.
Greater Wisconsin raised more than $2 million from several groups, including the Democratic Governors Association; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and the labor-backed group We Are Wisconsin. Most of that money, including $900,000 from the governors association and $500,000 from AFSCME, came from Washington, D.C.
Other groups active in the race - such as Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which is running ads helping Walker - do not disclose their funding.