MADISON – A new report by the WISPIRG Foundation and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund shows that 77 percent of funding in the 34 U.S. senate races happening nationwide comes from out-of-state. Outside Influence: Out-of-State Money in the 2016 Senate Elections highlights the share of money that candidates, PACs, super PACs, and party committees have raised from outside the state they are spending on. In Wisconsin, the report finds that 61 percent of election funding in this year’s U.S. senate race comes from out-of-state.
“Wisconsin’s senate race should be about Wisconsin voters,” said Chris MacKenzie, WISPIRG Foundation Digital and Communications Director. “When nearly two in three campaign dollars comes from out-of-state interests, Wisconsinites’ interests are being drowned out. If our candidates want to run a competitive campaign, they’re forced to appeal to out-of-state donors rather than Wisconsin constituents. It’s no surprise that 78 communities all across Wisconsin have passed resolutions or referenda to get big money out of our elections.”
The study uses candidate and committee filings with the Federal Election Commission to examine what portion of money in this year’s senate races was raised from out-of-state sources. Money from unitemized campaign donors, 501(c) organizations, and other secret-money groups are not included due to a lack of information on donor origins.
Oklahoma’s senate race featured the least out-of-state fundraising, with 19 percent of money coming from out-of-state donors. At the other end of the spectrum, 95 percent of disclosed and itemized contributions spent in New Hampshire’s senate race came from outside the state. The national average for out-of-state spending in this year’s 34 senate races is 77 percent.
Outside Influence is being published in an election year where Americans have made money in politics a top national concern. Seventy-eight percent of Americans, including a wide majority of both Republicans and Democrats believe that Citizens United should be overturned. Polling also shows that a large majority Americans believe that fundamental changes are needed in our campaign finance system to empower voters over large donors and special interests.
With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their own narrow agendas, the WISPIRG Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization, offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. We work to protect consumers and promote good government, investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer Wisconsinites meaningful opportunities for civic participation.