Bloomberg News

Wisconsin Governor Recall Fight Cost $81 Million, Report Says

July 25, 2012

The tab on this year’s unsuccessful bid to oust Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came to almost $81 million, more than double the amount spent on any previous single race in the state, according to a report by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political finance.

Walker and Republican groups supporting him spent $58.7 million, compared with the $22 million that Democratic challenger Tom Barrett and his allies paid, the report says.

The nonpartisan group, based in Madison, Wisconsin, reviewed campaign finance reports, television advertising buys and outside electioneering activity such as direct-mail and radio ads, to arrive at the total recall cost.

The report also examines other recall races in 2011 and 2012, for lieutenant governor and state Senate posts, calculating that all of those races, including Walker’s, cost $137.5 million. Outside groups accounted for more than half of that total.

Walker’s campaign spent $36.1 million on the recall, more than three times what he invested in his 2010 election, the report shows.

Presidential Donors

The governor’s campaign finance reports show that 70 percent of his top 37 recall campaign contributors live in states other than Wisconsin, according to the report. These donors include Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Both are spending millions in an effort to help presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defeat President Barack Obama in November’s general election.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign also found that Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group started by energy billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries, spent an estimated $3.7 million backing Walker during the recall effort.

Americans for Prosperity, which can raise unlimited amounts without reporting its donors, has spent an estimated $12 million on 16,501 TV ads in the presidential race, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, a New York-based company that tracks political ads.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at jbykowicz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net


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