Monday, January 30, 2006

FAVOR-SEEKERS FUND DOYLE INAUGURATION


Familiar faces among inauguration donors
Casino advocate one of nine who contributed $25,000 each to gala
By RICHARD P. JONES
rjones@journalsentinel.com
Last Updated: Jan. 21, 2003

Madison - A Kenosha businessman who led the effort to turn the Dairyland Greyhound Park into an Indian casino was among nine contributors of $25,000 each to help cover the cost of Gov. Jim Doyle's inaugural gala.

Major Donors
Top corporate and individual donors to Gov. Jim Doyle's inaugural:

$25,000 donors
Cobalt Corp./Blue Cross & Blue Shield
Dennis and Natalie Troha
General Beverage and General Beer Distributors
Johnson Controls
Mathy Construction Co.
Miller Brewing Co.
Philip Morris Cos./Kraft Foods
Forest County Potawatomi
SBC Ameritech

$15,000 donor
Ho-Chunk Nation

$10,000 donors
Alliant Energy
American Transmission Co.
DaimlerChrysler
Deloitte Consulting
GE Medical
Ford Motor Co.
Fortis Health
Madison Gas & Electric
Stifel Nicolaus
We Energies
Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

Source: Governor's office
Dennis Troha, along with his wife, Natalie, were listed Tuesday among such corporate heavyweight contributors as Philip Morris Cos., Miller Brewing and Johnson Controls, as well as the Forest County Potawatomi tribe.

Doyle's office released the list of all contributors, as the governor presented the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin a check for more than $233,000, proceeds remaining after inaugural expenses.

Last month, as he prepared to take office, Doyle said that instead of using tax dollars to cover inaugural expenses Jan. 6, his inaugural committee would seek contributions to cover the costs and benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Defending the arrangement Tuesday, Doyle said it posed no conflicts for him as governor while it avoided further expense to the state, which faces a deficit of at least $2.6 billion in the 2003-'05 budget cycle.

"We were very, very careful in checking with the Ethics Board about how to establish this," Doyle said, when asked about contributors who could come calling at the Capitol with items for the Legislature and governor to consider.

Doyle, former attorney general, said he took pains to "avoid even any appearance of conflict." If re-elected in four years, he said, he hoped to take the same approach and benefit a charity.

Typically what has happened in Wisconsin and other states, Doyle said, is that inaugural committees were formed, and individuals and corporations were asked to contribute to cover the expenses.

"We decided to go a step further and not only raise money, not only for the inauguration and inauguration committee, but to have people really be able to support a really good cause as part of it," Doyle said.

A different approach

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said Doyle's method is an improvement over fund-raising for previous gubernatorial inaugurations in Wisconsin. Doyle was upfront about soliciting donations to pay for the inauguration and disclosed the names of people who donated, Heck said.

"The concern is always that these large amounts of money will have undue influence," Heck said. "But it's probably about the best we could have hoped for."

Troha could not be reached for comment. He and other investors joined with the Menominee Indian tribe in an unsuccessful effort to convert the Kenosha dog track into a casino.

Troha also contributed $10,000 to Doyle's campaign, the maximum allowed. After he reached the limit, three of his children contributed $7,500 each to Doyle.

"They're big supporters of the governor from Kenosha," Doyle spokesman Josh Morby said when asked about the Trohas.

Tom Krajewski, a spokesman for the Forest County Potawatomi community, which gave $25,000, said he did not expect the tribe's involvement would necessarily yield favorable results at the Capitol.

"I don't believe that Governor Doyle is going to treat the Potawatomi any differently as a result of that donation," he said.

Chris Schoenherr, spokesman for Madison-based Alliant Energy, which donated $10,000 to the inaugural, said the utility saw it as nothing more than a chance to welcome the new governor.

"Certainly, a contribution that would help the Boys & Girls Club would be appreciated, but it's not going to sway his mind one way or another on any policy issues," Schoenherr said.

Former foes donate

Doyle even got donations from two companies he sued as attorney general - Microsoft Corp. gave $5,000, and Philip Morris Cos. pitched in $25,000.

In 1998, Philip Morris and other tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion over 25 years to 46 states, including Wisconsin, to settle lawsuits. Doyle also joined a multistate lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging the company was a monopoly.

The fund-raising effort was similar to one in Iowa, where $100,000 was raised for charity. Flanked by children from clubs in Madison and elsewhere during a press conference Tuesday, Doyle said the committee was able to more than double what it hoped to raise.

The committee raised more than $455,000 in cash and received $21,300 in in-kind contributions, including $10,000 from the Friebert, Finerty & St. John law firm in Milwaukee.

Doyle and Wally Graffen, executive director of the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club, said clubs in 23 cities would share in the proceeds. Each club will receive about $8,200.

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