A new report shows many state lawmakers are relying heavily on campaign donations that come from outside of their districts.
The review by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found that, on average, lawmakers received two-thirds of their contributions of over $100 in 2013 from donors who are not able to vote for them. Executive director Mike McCabe says it can lead to a real conflict of interest, setting up a “system of divided loyalties” where there are competing interests.
McCabe says the issue comes in to play heavily when lawmakers are working on legislation like the state budget. He says the big contributions often come from groups that are looking for tax breaks or funding for state programs they stand to benefit from.
McCabe says “increasingly, we’re seeing legislators who pay more attention to their cash constituents than they do their voting constituents.” He says that results in decisions that benefit those who helped fund campaigns, often leaving residents of the district to make up the difference out of their own pockets.
The trend is not exclusive to any one party. McCabe says there was even split between Republicans and Democrats serving in the Legislature. While some lawmakers did see very little money coming from outside of their district, he notes that there were several who saw most of their donations of $100 or more coming from outside of their district.