Major CEO Donor To Walker Charged With Two Felony Counts Of Illegal Campaign Contributions

A top donor to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) gubernatorial campaign has been charged with multiple violations of campaign finance law, reports the Associated Press. Prosecutors today have charged William Gardner, the CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company, with one count of excessive political donations and another related to unlawful political contributions. Prosecutors claim Gardner used his employees and family members to funnel $44,000 to Walker during the GOP primary. He is accused of then illegally reimbursing the donors with company money. Walker has returned the contributions. Notably, prosecutors charged Gardner because the law prohibits direct donations from corporations to candidate committees. However, the Citizens United decision allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts in support of a candidate for office. If Gardner had funneled the company donations through a group like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or another front group, or if his company had taken out ads in support of Walker, his actions would not have attracted legal scrutiny.