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Wisconsin State Senators Raising Big-Bucks For Recall Elections, State Law Limits Use Of Funds

April 28, 2011

The money is rolling in for some of the Republican and Democratic state senators who are facing a recall election this summer.  The amounts that are making headlines in some cases are amazing.  All this money comes on top of a  reminder of how recall funds are supposed to be spent.

Political watchdogs around Wisconsin might want to take note not only of the amounts that are pouring into these races, but also how the money is being used.  While there is no limit on the amounts that can be raised, there are still restrictions that need to be observed.  I think we need to keep a careful eye on how the monies are spent, as the process of government and politics is even more important than the outcomes.

State law limits use of the recall funds to legal fees and all other expenses related to the circulation of a recall petition or the challenge or defense of an order for a recall election. They cannot be used to advocate for or against a candidate.

In State Senator Alberta Darling’s case she is in need of a shovel it seems to load it all into her bank account.

State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) has raised $422,000 so far this year, according to a campaign spending report that shows she’s well-armed for the recall challenge being prepared against her.

Her campaign report, filed with the state Government Accountability Board this week, also lists $206,000 in campaign spending so far – much of it for design and mailing of campaign literature, and radio ads.

Other Republican senators targeted for recall also reported campaign collections well into the six figures, but none approached her totals. They include Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, who’s raised $180,000 this year and spent $90,000; Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, who’s raised $131,000 and spent $39,000; and Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, $110,000 and $61,000. The one other GOP senator against whom signatures have been filed so far is Luther Olsen of Ripon, who reports $35,000 in collections and only $637 in expenditures in his mostly rural district.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay reported $127,000 in contributions and $54,000 in expenditures; Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover reported $151,000 in collections and $92,000 in spending; and Sen. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie reported $51,000 raised and just $2,800 spent. All three Democrats had recall signatures filed against them last week.

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