Candidates, special interest groups and political committees spent more than $137 million on the historic wave of 15 recalls over the last two years, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said Wednesday.
Of that amount, nearly $81 million targeted the failed attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker. It more than doubled the record-setting $37.4 million spent for a statewide office in the 2010 governor's race. And Walker more than tripled his previous spending record, doling out about $36 million leading up to his June 5 recall victory.
"The total amount of money is mind-boggling," said Mike McCabe, WDC executive director.
The 15 recall races included one each for governor and lieutenant governor and 13 state Senate seats between last summer and June 5.
Walker and Republican groups and committees spent $58.7 million on the Walker recall, more than double the $22 million spent by Democratic candidates, the democracy campaign said. In that race, Walker defeated his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and independent candidate for governor Dr. Hariprasad Trivedi, who spent $305,204.
For all 15 of the recalls in 2011 and 2012, Republican candidates, groups and committees outspent their Democratic opponents $84.5 million to $52.6 million, according to WDC.
And outside special interest groups spent nearly $76 million in the 15 recalls, including $39.8 million by groups that supported the GOP and $36 million by those that backed Democrats.
McCabe said the spending by outside special interest groups was the most ever in Wisconsin.
WDC also reported that nearly $22 million, or 64 percent, of the individual contributions Walker brought in since January 2011 came from out-of-state banking, manufacturing, construction, real estate and other special interests from places like Florida, Texas, New York, Missouri and Nevada.
The campaign spending watchdog group based its estimates on a review of outside group spending, television advertising buys and campaign finance reports filed by the candidates, groups and political committees.