Wisconsin’s 700-plus registered lobby groups reported spending $11.5 million seeking to influence state law and policy in the last half of 2014. That brought total lobbying expenditures for the two-year legislative session to $57.5 million.
In the first six months of this year, Wisconsin’s 700-plus registered lobby groups collectively invested $14.1 million trying to shape state law or policy, according to new filings with the state Government Accountability Board.
In Wisconsin, any paid representative of an interest group who works to influence state law or policy must register with the state Government Accountability Board and file twice-yearly reports. But if a person works to help an interest group secure a state government contract has no registration or reporting requirement.
Wisconsin receives a C- in a nationwide ranking of states’ accountability and risk of corruption. The State Integrity Investigation, released today, ranks Wisconsin 22nd, with a score of 70 percent — a score boosted by the creation in 2008 of the state Government Accountability Board to help clean up government.
More than one hundred people or groups paid fines for violating Wisconsin’s campaign finance and ethics laws in the past three years. The violator list reads like a Who’s Who of Wisconsin politicians, and includes some noteworthy outsiders as well.
So far this year, 90 new PACs have been created, about the same number as during the previous four years combined. The lobbyist behind one reactivated PAC, Insuring Wisconsin, explains why his group has ramped up its political activities.
Michael Richards sometimes finds himself telling people, “I’m not your typical lobbyist.” But in fact, that’s exactly what he is.
Democrats reacted sharply to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to call the Legislature into special session to take up a slate of measures meant to put Wisconsin “back to work.” The Assembly’s minority leader pegged most bills as “payoffs to special interests” that do nothing to create jobs.
The Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, a powerful state lobby group, is taking its case for more and better roads directly to the people — by running ads during Badgers’ and Brewers’ games.
Over the past six months, Gogebic Taconite LLC spent $114,883 lobbying state officials in support of its proposal to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, who represents the district where the mine would be located, says this was “a complete waste of money.”
Twenty-five labor unions reported spending a total of $7.2 million on lobbying in Wisconsin between Jan. 1 and June 30. That’s more than the $5.2 million the same unions spent lobbying in all of 2009-10.
As elections draw nigh, librarian and WisconsinWatch blogger Ron Larson provides some tips on how to follow Wisconsin political money and keep tabs on the candidates.