The Biggest Donors to Wisconsin Political Parties in 2018

The matriarch of the Chicago Cubs-owning family, an heir to the Schlitz Beer fortune, and the richest self-made woman in the U.S.


The matriarch of the Chicago Cubs-owning family, an heir to the Schlitz Beer fortune, and the richest self-made woman in the U.S. are just some of the ultra-wealthy people who poured millions of dollars into Wisconsin political party coffers during the election year of 2018, according to an investigation of campaign finance records by The Badger Project. Read the full story here.

A landmark court decision in 2014 and drastic changes to Wisconsin campaign finance law in 2015 removed the guardrails on ultrarich donors, allowing big money to go to candidates while avoiding state limits on direct contributions.

Here are the 22 people who gave $100,000 or more to Wisconsin political parties in Wisconsin in the election year of 2018, according to campaign finance documents.

1. Diane Hendricks

Diane Hendricks

Gave more than $2 million to the Wisconsin GOP

America’s richest self-made woman, according to Forbes, is worth about $7 billion. With her now-deceased husband Ken Hendricks, the Beloit native launched ABC Supply, one of the nation’s largest distributors of siding, windows and roofing, in 1982.

She has given more than $19 million to a variety of candidates and political committees in the last two decades, almost all of which were GOP candidates, according to Follow the Money, the campaign finance database of the National Institute for Money in Politics.

2. Marlene Ricketts

$1 million to the Wisconsin GOP

The Chicago Cubs are now owned by the Ricketts family, and Marlene is the matriarch. Her husband, Joe Ricketts, founded what is now TD Ameritrade. The family is worth about $2.7 billion, according to Forbes. Ricketts, who lives in Omaha, has given more than $20 million to a variety of candidates and political committees in the last 10 years, most of which were Republican, according to Follow the Money.

3. Liz Uihlein

$1 million to the Wisconsin GOP

The wife of Dick Uihlein, an heir to the Schlitz beer fortune, the Chicago-based couple founded the shipping materials giant Uline in 1980. Forbes estimates the company is worth between $700 million and $2 billion. Dick and Liz Uihlein have become major donors to conservative candidates in recent years. They are part-time residents of Manitowish Waters in Northern Wisconsin and have donated and invested a lot there. The couple spent at least $26 million in the 2018 election cycle, according to the New York Times.

4. Timothy Dunn

$500,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Timothy Dunn is the Chief Executive Officer of the Texas-based oil and gas company CrownQuest Operating. He has donated millions of dollars to groups aimed at getting several Texas Republicans out of office in favor of even more conservative lawmakers, according to The Texas Tribune.

5. Herb Kohl

$445,000 to the Wisconsin Dems

The former Wisconsin Senator and Kohl’s CEO has donated millions? to Democratic groups and officials for years. In 2016, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $630 million.

6. Lynde Uihlein

$340,000 to the Wisconsin Dems

The Milwaukee-born Lynde Uihlein is a philanthropist and heiress to the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company. In 1989, Uihlein founded the Brico Fund, a feminist nonprofit, according to the Notable Names Database. A cousin to Dick Uihlein, Liz Uihlein’s husband, she has donated hundreds of thousands to Democrats in Wisconsin, according to Follow the Money.

7. Robert Price

$330,000 to the Wisconsin Dems in 2018

Robert Price, San Diego native and Pomona College graduate, is the Chairman of PriceSmart Inc., a warehouse-retail company, and Chairman of Price Philanthropies Foundation, According to the San Diego Business Journal. Price donated more than $600,000 to the Wisconsin state Democratic Party between 2017 and 2018, according to Urban Milwaukee.

8. David Craig Humphreys

$250,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Since 1994, David Craig Humphreys has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Missouri-based TAMKO Building Products Inc. He has donated to Republican officials and groups in both Missouri and Wisconsin, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

9. John Miller

$220,000 to the Wisconsin Dems

John Miller of Cedarburg is the founder and head of Arenberg Holdings, a venture capital fund, according to the company’s website. Miller attended Marquette University for his undergraduate studies and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Miller has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, largely to Wisconsin Democrats, according to Follow the Money.

10. David Herro

$200,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

David Herro is a partner and deputy chairman of the Chicago-based investment company Harris Associates. Herro grew up in Milwaukee and Fond du Lac, and he attended UW-Platteville for his undergraduate studies before obtaining a Master’s in economics from UW-Milwaukee, according to Bloomberg. Herro has donated hundreds of thousands, largely to Republicans, in Wisconsin, Illinois and other states, according to Follow the Money.

11. Bruce Hendry

$200,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Bruce Hendry is a Minneapolis investor who made his fortune in corporate finance, according to Twin Cities Business. Hendry has donated largely to Republicans in Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to Follow the Money. He has a family cabin near Cable, WI.

12. Richard Roberts

$200,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Richard Roberts is the former chairman, president, and CEO of URL Pharma, according to Bloomberg. Roberts is a donor to Republicans across the country, but mostly in Wisconsin, according to Follow the Money. Roberts is also a big donor to the orthodox community in Lakewood, New Jersey, where he resides with his wife, according to the Asbury Park Press.

13. John Shaffer

$180,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

John Shaffer of Burlington, Wisconsin is a retired real estate executive with a history of donating to Republican politicians, according to Urban Milwaukee.

14. Jennifer Pritzker

$125,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Jennifer Pritzker, the only known transgender billionaire, is an investor, philanthropist and former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain and is among the wealthiest in the country, according to Forbes, which estimates Pritzker’s net worth to be $1.9 billion. The founder and CEO of private wealth management firm Tawani Enterprises is a major donor to Republican candidates and right-wing organizations, according to Follow the Money. Her cousin J.B. Pritzker is the governor of Illinois.

15. Dale Leibowitz

$125,000 to the Wisconsin Dems

Madison resident Dale Leibowitz is the founder of the Purple Moon Foundation, which gifts mostly Madison organizations with charitable donations, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

16. Jere Fabick

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Jere Fabick of Oconomowoc is co-owner of FABICK CAT, a large machinery dealership. Fabick has been donating to Republican officials, some recent recipients being Scott Walker and Robin Vos, since 1994, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

17. Bernard Marcus

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Coming in at #109 on Forbes’ list of the richest people in America with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion is the co-founder of Home Depot. The New Jersey-born Marcus and his wife founded The Marcus Foundation, which has donated more than $1 billion to education, hospitals and Jewish causes. Marcus donated $7 million to help elect President Donald Trump, according to CNN.

18. Leonard Blavatnik

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

A Soviet-born British-American, Leonard Blavatnik is businessman, investor, and philanthropist. And he’s the 59th richest person in the world, according to Forbes, which estimates his net worth at about $17 billion. Blavatnik is the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a multinational industrial group headquartered in New York.

19. Ralph Stayer

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Ralph Stayer is the owner of Johnsonville, the global sausage company headquartered in Sheboygan Falls. He owns it with his family, making the Stayers among the wealthiest families in America, according to Forbes. The Naples, Florida resident has donated tens of thousands to Republicans in Wisconsin over the past two decades, according to Follow the Money

20. Ted Kellner

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Mequon resident Ted Kellner is the founder and chairman of Fiduciary Management, an independent money management firm. Nearly all of his donations have gone to Republicans, except in 2008, when he donated $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and his wife gave $1,000 to Barack Obama, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

21. Thomas William Smith

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Thomas William Smith is the founder and president of the Connecticut-based Prescott Investors. He resides in Boca Raton, Florida, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

22. Robert Rasmus

$100,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

Robert Rasmus is another company head who has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Houston-based Rasmus founded Red Oak Capital Management LLC and Hi-Crush Proppants LLC, according to Bloomberg.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.

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