As elections loom, political groups are feverishly fundraising

Campaign money is flowing all over Wisconsin with both a gubernatorial recall and presidential election in the near future, and political tensions are running high. Both Democratic and Republican groups have been raking in funds to support their respective candidates.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin and Friends of Scott Walker have seen the most success in fundraising. The Republican Party has brought in $1,113,956, and Scott Walker’s team has brought in more than $12 million.

Walker’s support groups have been the subject of scrutiny because of the large donations received from individual out-of-state donors. Half of the contributions to Friends of Scott Walker have come from outside Wisconsin and 23 percent of the donations to the state Republican party were out of state.

Friends of Scott Walker saw individual donations as large as $500,000.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has brought in $1,689,463, slightly more than the Republican Party of Wisconsin. However, groups supporting individual candidates, like Friends of Kathleen Falk and Voters for Vinehout, brought in significantly smaller amounts.

Graeme Zielinski, communications director for the state’s Democratic Party, said the party isn’t focusing on competing with donations brought in by Republican groups.

“Scott Walker is blowing us out of the water when it comes to donations,” he said. “It will hurt him in the long run that he is listening to out-of-state people and not the people of Wisconsin.”

Friends of Scott Walker and the state Republican Party could not be reached for comment.

While the individual Democratic campaign groups had 10 percent or less coming from out of state donors, 33 percent of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s donations came from donors outside Wisconsin.

Both political parties received most of their donations from Political Action Committees (PACs) and received the next highest amount from individual donors.

With the political climate heating up, some campaigns have seen recent surges in campaign donation amounts. Scott Walker’s team saw a huge surge in campaign donations made in December 2011 and January 2012.

In comparison, the Democratic Party has seen fairly consistent donations since January 2011, ranging from $76,184 in April 2011 and peaking at $375,432 in November 2011.

Friends of Scott Walker’s December donations peaked in December 2011 with $3,077,893.

Zielinski added that the Democrats are focusing on gathering smaller donations.

“We rely on small dollar donations,” he said. “We need all the help we can get.”

Erik Kirkstein, political director for United Wisconsin, said their group is also focusing on motivating grassroots donors. United Wisconsin is a PAC looking to recall Walker.

“United Wisconsin has raised the overwhelming majority of its funds from the individual donations of hard-working people across Wisconsin,” he said. “Wisconsinites have been chipping in what they can afford to this grassroots movement.”

C. Terrance Anderson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he has donated to political campaigns and believes college students may be less likely to make campaign donations because of having limited funds.

“I donated because I wanted to help a campaign that I believed in but couldn’t volunteer for,” he said. “I didn’t donate much. I just wanted to show some kind of support, even if I couldn’t make a huge change in some way.”