Almost $44 million was pumped into Wis. special elections

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Summer recalls targeting six Republicans and three Democrats attracted $43.9 million in spending from special interest groups and candidates, with Democrats outspending Republicans by almost $3 million, according to an analysis from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The spending broke a number of state records for spending in legislative races. It also surpassed earlier spending predictions—Common Cause Wisconsin predicted the races might attract up to $30 million in August.

The biggest spenders were outside special interest groups. The We Are Wisconsin PAC, which is made up of unions, spent $10.7 million, edging out the conservative Club for Growth’s $9 million.

Many of the spenders, like the Club for Growth, were organized under new rules put in place by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that don’t require them to disclose where their funding comes from. The flood of open money in the state has led open government advocates to push for better disclosure requirements.

Republican candidates spent $4 million, according to the analysis, while Democrats spent slightly less.

The most expensive campaign came in Wisconsin’s 8th Senate District, where incumbent Republican Sen. Alberta Darling fought off her Democratic challenger at a total cost of $10 million.

Group Amount
We Are Wisconsin PAC $10,746,194
Club for Growth Wisconsin* $9,000,000
Greater Wisconsin Committee** $4,000,000
Citizens for a Strong America* $1,700,000
American Federation for Children** $1,300,000
Progressive Change Campaign Committee & Democracy for America** $1,300,000
Wisconsin Family Action* $850,000
Republican State Leadership Committee** $800,000
Americans for Prosperity* $800,000
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce* $700,000
Wisconsin Senate Democrats $500,000
Wisconsin Education Association Council PAC $499,391
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee** $400,000
Presidential Coalition* $400,000
Wisconsin WOMEN VOTE! $264,845
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin $173,601
People for the American Way $167,119
MoveOn.org Political Action Wisconsin Independent Expenditure Committee $134,993
Jobs First Coalition* $100,000
Citizen Action of Wisconsin $90,896
Wisconsin State AFL – CIO* $85,000
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters $81,499
Volunteers for Agriculture PAC $79,545
State Government Leadership Foundation* $50,000
National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund PAC $40,411
GOPAC Wisconsin $38,608
Working America $37,715
Wisconsin Sierra Club Education Committee $31,328
Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama PAC $25,000
Our Country Deserves Better $25,000
Winnebagoland Uniserv PAC $15,010
NAACP National Voter Fund $14,990
Faith Family Freedom Fund $12,365
Wisconsin Right to Life $10,564
Voces de la Frontera Action Committee $10,018
Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Defense Fund $3,654
National Federation of Independent Business SAFE Trust PAC $2,277
Irreverent Contingent $1,150
Friends of Ann Schmidt $253
Wisconsin Recall Initiative $150
TOTAL $34,491,576

*Phony issue ad group and estimated spending.
**Estimated phony issue ad and independent expenditure spending.