Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Raises Millions Thanks To A Loophole Allowing Unlimited Donations

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is raking in millions of dollars to fund his campaign against a recall effort to remove him from office. Out-of-state donors have poured money into his campaign coffers, making up more than 60 percent of the $4.5 million Walker raised in five weeks. And that includes the $1 million he received from four out-of-state donors alone, who donated $250,000 each — all thanks to a loophole in state law:

Normally, a governor or candidate for governor can accept a maximum of $10,000 from an individual during a four-year campaign cycle. But a quirk in state law lifts all limits for recall targets while petitions are circulated and election officials determine how many signatures have been submitted.

Walker’s most recent campaign finance report covers December 11 to January 17, the day Walker’s opponents filed petitions with more than 1 million signatures to recall him from office — when only 540,000 were needed. It could take up to 60 days for the Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections, to review the signatures.

Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews contended that he only is trying to counter the money national out-of-state unions will spend on the recall effort, but there is little evidence that unions are even capable of competing with the kind of deep pocketed groups and wealthy individuals that support Walker. Last year, corporate interest groups sprang to the rescue of a Walker ally on the state supreme court, Justice David Prosser, after polls began to show Prosser’s reelection bid in trouble. This influx of corporate money rapidly overwhelmed the much smaller donations made by groups supporting Prosser’s opponent, and he managed to squeak out a narrow victory.


So far, Walker has an enormous fundraising lead over potential opponents. In the same time period where Walker raised millions, the state Democratic party raised more than $394,000, with $40,000 being the largest donation to the party. United Wisconsin, the group spearheading the recall effort along with the Democratic party, raised $86,379. And former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who has announced she is running against Walker, had $27,000 in her campaign account as of June 30.

While it’s not clear if Walker’s opponents will match his millions in campaign donations, it is perfectly clear that Walker is benefiting from an unfair loophole in state law allowing just a handful of wealthy individuals to drown out the more than a million Wisconsin residents who want to see him recalled.