Investigations

The Biggest Donors to Wisconsin Political Parties in 2020

BY MOLLY LIEBERGALL, THE BADGER PROJECT

A loophole in Wisconsin campaign finance law allows individuals to make unlimited donations to political parties, and also allows political parties to make unlimited donations to candidates. If an individual wants to donate directly to a candidate, there are limits based on state and federal law. But not if they give through a party.

Here’s who is taking advantage of that loophole in Wisconsin, according to campaign finance records.

1. Karla Jurvetson

$2.8 million to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A physician, philanthropist, and political activist from Silicon Valley, Karla Jurvetson is divorced from a super-successful tech investor. She has emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific donors. Of the 41 states that received her support this year, Wisconsin got the largest sum by far, but Arizona, Pennsylvania and other battleground states still received around $1 million each, according to campaign finance records.

2. J.B. Pritzker

$2.5 million to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The current governor of Illinois has donated a whopping $250 million plus to mostly Democratic causes over the past two decades, according to campaign finance records. The Pritzker family founded and developed the Hyatt Hotel chain, making J.B. — whose net worth Forbes pegs at $3.4 billion — an heir to the fortune. Cousin Jennifer Pritzker donated $125,000 to the Wisconsin GOP in 2018 and was a big supporter of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, but she has broken from the president and donated to Joe Biden this year.

3. Diane Hendricks

$2.4 million to the Republican Party of Wisconsin
America’s richest self-made woman, according to Forbes, is worth about $8 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 tens of millions to a variety of candidates and political committees in the last two decades, the majority being Republican, according to campaign finance records.

4. Liz Uihlein

$900,000 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin
Along with her husband Dick Uihlein, an heir to the Schlitz beer fortune, the Chicago-based couple founded the shipping materials giant Uline in 1980. The billionaires have become major donors to conservative candidates and Super PACs in recent years, especially in Wisconsin, where they reside part-time in Manitowish Waters.

5. Reid Garrett Hoffman

$750,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A LinkedIn co-founder and Microsoft board member, Reid Hoffman is estimated to be worth $2 billion. This “charitable investor” has put an additional $1.5 billion into social and environmental investments, according to Forbes.

6. Elise Lawson

$540,100 to Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A surgeon and a philanthropist, Dr. Elise Lawson has donated more than $1 million since 2018 to Wisconsin Democrats, according to campaign finance records. She is an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and heads up the Surgical Collaborative of Wisconsin, an organization aimed at improving quality, care and affordability in the surgical field.

7. Sage Weil

$540,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
This Madison-area software engineer and entrepreneur has been building and selling startups since high school, according to Yahoo Finance. Weil has donated more than $1 million to Wisconsin Democrats since 2018, according to campaign finance records.

8. George Soros

$490,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
One of the most successful Wall St. investors in history, Soros is a vocal critic of President Trump has a long history of donating to progressive and democratic causes. He has contributed millions to political candidates over the past two decades, mostly Democrats, according to campaign finance records. Forbes says he is the world’s 56th-richest man at $8.6 billion.

9. Stacey Herzing

$390,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The California resident has donated nearly half a million dollars to Wisconsin Democrats since 2004, according to campaign finance records. She is a former executive at Herzing University, a multi-location institution founded by her father Henry Herzing, according to Urban Milwaukee. Between 2010 and 2016, Henry Herzing, his wife Suzanne and their second daughter Renee contributed thousands to Scott Walker, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

10. Robert Price

$280,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The San Diego native is the chairman of PriceSmart, a Central American warehouse-retail company. He is also the chairman of Price Philanthropies. Price has donated more than $1 million to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since 2017, according to campaign finance reports.

11. Eric Emerson Schmidt

$270,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

The Defense Department board member and former Google CEO lives in California. His net worth is $15.7 billion, according to Forbes.

12. S. Donald Sussman

$250,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
Sussman, who typically forgoes his first name ‘Selwyn,’ is a Maine-based hedge fund manager. He is the founder and CIO of Paloma Partners, an asset management company.

13. John Shaffer

$202,000 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin
John Shaffer of Burlington, Wisconsin, is the chairman and founder of Chicago’s HSA Commercial Real Estate. The retired real estate agent has a history of donating to Republican politicians.

14. Deborah Kern

$195,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
Deborah Kern sits on the board of her family’s Kern Family Foundation. It is Wisconsin’s second largest foundation and reported over $700 million in assets in 2017, according to Marquette University. The grant-making organization seeks to promote religious, family and community values.

15. Lynde Uihlein

$190,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A cousin of Dick Uihlein, Lynde Uihlein has donated millions to Democrats in Wisconsin, according to campaign finance reports. Uihlein is a philanthropist and heiress to the Schlitz Brewing Company, which markets itself as “the beer that made Milwaukee famous.”

16. Michael J. Sacks

$190,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

17. Stephen Michael Silberstein

$140,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The founder of his $112 million namesake foundation has donated to many major progressive groups in recent years.

18. William Huntington Reeves

$140,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

19. Robert E. Rubin

$125,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

Rubin was Secretary of the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration. His is a retired lawyer and banking executive.

20. Lisa Ann Mennet

$115,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

21. Paul Joseph Brown III

$115,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

22. Donald Zietlow

$111,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

The founder and owner of Kwik Trip and a frequent donor to Wisconsin Republicans.

23. Kirk Clay

$100,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

24. Zoe Bonderman

$98,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A daughter of billionaire investor David Bonderman.

25. Cale Michaels Bonderman

$96,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A son of billionaire investor David Bonderman.

26. Django Bonderman

$94,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
A son of billionaire investor David Bonderman.

27. Samantha Holloway

$89,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

28. Ronald Crawford Conway

$65,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

29. Brent Fox

$65,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

30. Herb Kohl

$60,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The former Democratic U.S. senator and former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks made his fortune with the Kohl’s department stores.

31. Leslie Bluhm

$50,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
Blum is the founder and president of Chicago Cares Inc., a nonprofit volunteer service organization.

32. Meredith Bluhm-Wolf

$50,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The daughter of billionaire Neil Bluhm is a part-owner of the Rivers Casino near O’Hare International Airport.

33. John W. Miller Jr.

$50,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The founder and head of Arenberg Holdings, a Milwaukee-based venture capital fund.

34. Scott Brickman

$50,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

35. Kimberlee Hendricks

$50,000 to the Wisconsin GOP

36. Ronald Wanek

$50,000 to the Wisconsin GOP
The founder and chairman of Ashley Furniture Industries.

37. Louis Gentine

$50,000 to the Wisconsin GOP
The former owner of Sargento Cheese.

38. Kathryn Burke

$41,820 to the Wisconsin GOP

39. John Charles Miller

$40,500 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The former CEO of Miller-St. Nazianz, a Wisconsin farm equipment supplier.

40. Dominic Orr

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The former CEO of Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

41. Amos Hostetter Jr.

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The billionaire cable TV pioneer donates tens of millions each year in support of the arts, education and the fight against climate change.

42. Jim Sinegal

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The co-founder of Costco is known for the low salary he gave himself as CEO and for his staunch support for democrats.

43. Gordon T. Faulkner

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The Madison pediatrician is married to the Epic Systems CEO and founder Judy Faulkner.

44. Stacy Helen Schusterman

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The Chair of the Samson Energy Company, a private oil and gas company.

45. Paul Growald

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The venture philanthropist invests in renewable energy with his wife Eileen Rockefeller Growald, a fourth-generation Rockefeller.

46. Barbara Hostetter

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The former president of the Barr Foundation co-founded the multimillion-dollar nonprofit with husband Amos Hostetter and now serves as the organization’s chair of the board of trustees.

47. Susan Pritzker

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
Pritzker, a member of the Hyatt Hotels co-founding family, is a big donor to progressive politics.

48. Wendy Greeney

$40,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin

49. Alice Walton

$40,000 to the Wisconsin GOP
The sole daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, and an heiress to the company fortune, is the richest woman and 10th richest person in the world, according to Forbes.

50. Dustin Moskovitz

$35,000 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin
The Internet entrepreneur helped launch Facebook with his then-college roommate Mark Zuckerberg.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, reader-supported journalism nonprofit that focuses on Wisconsin state government and politics.

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.