September 2, 2014

Recall money spent outside Wisconsin

Most of the money spent on recall elections did not help Wisconsin’s economy.

Approximately two-thirds of the more than $100 million spent in the series of recall elections over the last two years in Wisconsin went to vendors in other states. That’s according to a report by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

“When you look at two-thirds of the money actually flowing outside our state it’s not going to local printers, it’s not going to local agencies that produce TV or radio ads. And I think the other factor is the airwaves are saturated with political advertising in the weeks and months leading up to an election — what that does is it drives a lot of commercial advertisers off the air for a period of time. That can’t be good for their business.”

Mike McCabe with the watchdog group says they were inspired to do the report because many people thought that money spent on the campaigns stimulated the economy. “I think the net effect of all this campaign spending is probably negligible on our economy and maybe it’s even a negative; maybe it even detracts from economic activity because commercial advertisers are adversely affected.”

The review shows an estimated $32 million for campaign services was spent with Wisconsin businesses and groups, but $69 million was spent on consulting, printing, mailing and other media services from outside the state.

McCabe says so many of the special interest groups have outside interests. “They don’t have roots in Wisconsin; they’re based in Washington D.C. or New York or California or Texas.” So, he says, there’s no incentive to spend their money here. “They’re using printers and ad agencies and consulting firms in their own backyards.”

McCabe says candidates themselves were much more likely to spend their money in Wisconsin. More than half of the total money spent went for radio and television ads.

The details released Tuesday were compiled from a review of about 13,500 expenses in campaign finance reports filed by the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and 13 state senate seats.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:47