WEAC–what money can buy

Money influences the shaping of public policy.  More money has more influence.  As far as lobbying goes, money equals time.  The more time you have to spend with legislators and their aides, the more influence you have on legislation, votes, etc.  Yes, and?  Nothing new there.

What captured our attention this morning was the who and what that spend the “more money” at the Capitol and why.  Yesterday the State Journal reported that the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state teacher’s union, outspent any other lobbying organization in the state…by a lot.  The next biggest spender was the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, and WEAC outspent them by almost twice as much.  WEAC spent three times as much as the much-maligned big business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC).

How much has WEAC spent on lobbying since the session started a little over a year ago?  $1,511,272. And how many lobbying hours did WEAC log since the beginning of this session? 7,239 That’s roughly 55 hours per state legislator in the past year.  It’s no wonder the state legislature bows to every WEAC wish and whim!    The “Unhealthy Youth Act,” enrollment caps on virtual charter schools, restricting faith-based schools that educate low-income students, the repeal of state limits on teacher compensation…all things WEAC wanted and all things they got.

Who else is influencing policy in this state?  Take a look at the lobbying expenditures report here…

Some highlights for you:

  • Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin: $77,921 and 1,040 hours.
  • Fair Wisconsin (state’s main LGBT advocacy group): $102,565 and 641 hours.
  • Milwaukee Teachers Education Association: $85,068 and 853 hours.

3 comments on “WEAC–what money can buy

  1. MBLA says:

    This is EXACTLY the sort of result we’ll see as a consequence of last week’s Supreme Court ruling blocking the ban on corporate (and union) spending on politics. Polls have shown that 80% of all Americans on both sides of the political spectrum disagreed with that ruling.

    • Amy Lewis says:

      Actually, the Supreme Court ruling had to do with corporate spending on elections not lobbying. I think the Court’s ruling will actually help expose some of this. The ruling lifts the limits on corporate expenditures for political advertising (limits on corporate contributions to candidates’ campaigns are still in place). So, corporations (which includes many non-profit issue groups) and unions can let the public know which lobbying groups are influencing their legislators….because candidates certainly aren’t going to disclose that at any time, much less on the campaign trail.

  2. MBLA says:

    You are correct that the Supreme Court ruling had to do with elections, but I feel the principle is similar, and will have a similar result. Anytime corporate or union money is introduced into the political process, whether it be given directly to a politician (such as with lobbying), or on behalf of a candidate (advertising for them, for example), there is incentive for a politician to “go with the money” and not vote or act according to principle, or with their constituency, which I feel eventually undermines fair representation.

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