April 17. 2012 11:00AM - Last modified: April 17. 2012 11:37AM

MMAC fined for excessive campaign contributions

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's political action committee (PAC) has been fined by the state for collecting $170,000 in excessive donations that were used to finance contributions to Gov. Scott Walker's campaign to fight a recall, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The Government Accountability Board (GAB) fined the MMAC's PAC $500 in February and ordered it to get back $170,000 of the $175,000 in contributions it gave the Walker campaign in December, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported today.
The GAB also required the MMAC's PAC to return the excessive contributions to the donors. Individual contributions to a PAC are limited by a $10,000 per year overall cap that an individual may contribute to all state and local candidates and political committees.
However, three of the PAC's donors contributed a total of $200,000, according to the report. Topping the list was Ted Kellner, Mequon, founder of Fiduciary Management, who gave $100,000; Patrick English of Wauwatosa, chief executive officer of Fiduciary Management, at $50,000; and William Nasgovitz, Shorewood, a Heartland Advisors executive who also contributed $50,000.
The PAC collected a total of $219,250 from 12 donors who gave between $200 and $100,000 between Nov. 29 and Dec. 15, 2011. Nine of the 12 contributors worked for Fiduciary Management and a 10th donor was the spouse of an employee at the Milwaukee firm, the report said. Those 10 donors collectively contributed $159,250 to the PAC.
The remaining contributors to the PAC were Nasgovitz, and David Uihlein Jr. of Milwaukee who contributed $10,000.
In turn, the MMAC's PAC contributed $175,000 to Walker in two contributions of $150,000 Dec. 14 and $25,000 Dec. 29. The PAC also made three $10,000 contributions Dec. 29 to three of the four Republican state senators who were targeted for recall this year – Van Wanggaard of Racine, Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau and Pam Galloway of Wausau. Galloway later resigned from office but a June 5 election will be held with the others for her seat.
Steve Baas, government affairs director for the MMAC, confirmed today that the PAC was fined for the contributions.
"We initially misunderstood guidance we received from GAB with regard to the use of monies contributed to our PAC during the recall period. When the GAB clarified their procedures for treatment of those funds, we immediately responded per their instructions," Baas said.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign describes itself as a nonpartisan watchdog agency that monitors donations to political campaigns.