FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New data reveals only a small percentage of Wisconsinites stand to gain from doubling of campaign contribution limits
MADISON – As Wisconsin considers a 100% increase in state political contribution limits, new analysis suggests the effect of the proposed increase will not serve the interest of the majority of Wisconsin voters.
United Wisconsin has obtained data developed in preparation for a forthcoming comprehensive report on campaign contribution limits and donor distribution in state politics by the National Institute on Money in State Politics based in Helena, Montana, revealing that during the 2010 election cycle, only 1855 (2.1%) of the nearly 85,000 campaign donors to candidates in Wisconsin state legislative races reached the maximum annual contribution limit allowed by state law.
A similar trend was seen in Wisconsin’s regular 2012 state legislative races when only 2263 (2%) of approximately 112,948 contributors reached the annual maximum contribution limit. Contributions during the special recall elections were not included in this analysis.
“A look at the numbers makes it crystal clear that only a handful of Wisconsinites donate at the maximum level to state political candidates. Raising contribution limits magnifies the voices of this 2% at the expense of the rest of us who cannot afford to give at such high levels,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “By raising the cap on campaign spending, expect to see the wealthiest donors expanding their influence over our elections – and over our elected officials – while the power divide between the wealthy and the rest of Wisconsin grows.”
In a study released in November, 2010, by researchers at George Mason University, an analysis of data spanning more than 2 and a half decades on the relationship between campaign contributions and the competitiveness of elections found that limits on campaign contributions have a significant effect on the competitiveness of races. The study further concluded that a strong correlation exists between increased campaign contribution limits and decreased competitiveness in elections.
“Pumping more money into elections will dilute public trust and confidence in Wisconsin’s elected officials and serves to dissuade potential candidates from ever running for public office in the first place. Increased contribution limits will allow incumbents to pad their war chests, leaving newcomers unable to compete,” Subeck said. ”Not only will higher contribution limits increase the reliance of our elected officials on big donors for financial support, but this move will also further protect incumbents from competitive elections, diminishing our democratic process.”
Subeck concluded, “In a political system already flooded with big special interest money, the last thing we need is an infusion of even more cash into politicians’ campaign coffers.”
United Wisconsin is an independent grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.