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Wisconsin Democrats Pump Big, Out-Of-State Dollars Into School Board Elections

A review of campaign finance records shows the Democrat Party of Wisconsin targeted some 15 public school districts statewide.


While Badger State voters have rejected “Zuckbucks” in Wisconsin elections, campaign finance figures show big, outside money in local, so-called nonpartisan races is here to stay. 

That’s particularly true of the deep-pocketed Democrat Party of Wisconsin, which continues to outraise the Wisconsin GOP by massive amounts. 

A review of campaign finance records shows the DPW targeted some 15 public school districts statewide, delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions to help elect leftist candidates. The donations mainly cover the costs of mailers and other supporting efforts. 

In the Waukesha School District alone, arguably the epicenter of Wisconsin’s battle over pre-K-12 education, the party had recorded north of $43,000 in in-kind contributions for Stephanie Fidlin and Angelique Byrne — two of five school board candidates running for three seats in Tuesday’s election. DPW listed in its campaign finance report three separate significant contributions totaling $21,715.11 for each of the candidates. 

As The Federalist reported last week, conservative school board members in Waukesha spearheaded a letter condemning Wisconsin’s far-left public schools chief Jill Underly for campaigning for the liberal candidates and injecting herself in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan election. 

“That the DPI, through its highest ranking officer, would actively meddle in local elections and rebuke local school board members, should be viewed as a blatant conflict of interest that usurps the will of the electorate and runs afoul of local control,” wrote Waukesha School Board President Kelly Piacsek and board Vice President Anthony Zenobia in the public letter signed by scores of school board members and candidates around the state. 

The money dump is similar in more than a dozen other school districts around the state, including Green Bay, Kenosha, Stevens Point, and Wausau. In Kenosha, DPW recorded three substantial in-kind contributions each to liberal incumbents Mary Modder and Todd Price totaling more than $34,000, according to campaign finance reports. The party did the same for left-leaning candidates Sabrina Landry and Robin Cullen. Eight candidates vied for four seats on the Kenosha School Board. 

The Republican Party and conservative get-out-the-vote efforts have spent considerably less on local races. 

Wisconsin Democrats raised nearly $5.5 million from the beginning of 2024 to March 18, the end of the most recent filing period, according to DPW’s state campaign finance reports. The party spent more than $2 million over that same period.

The party has far outraised its state GOP opponents, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

The vast majority of the Democrats’ war chest is being filled by out-of-state donors. The party’s top 6 donors have contributed at least $4.2 million to the coffers. That includes a $2 million contribution from Silicon Valley leftist sugar daddy Reid Hoffman. The billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn and reported visitor to Jeffrey Epstein’s “Pedophile Island” has generously given to left-wing causes and candidates, including President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.   

Also on the mega donor list is billionaire George Soros, who has chipped in $750,000 so far this year after dropping a cool $1 million into the DPW’s accounts during Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race last spring, the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history. All that money bought the left its first majority on the court in some 15 years.  

As of Wednesday, it looked like the left’s big money campaign had fallen short in Waukesha. The two liberal school board candidates lost to incumbents Piacsek, Zenobia, and fellow conservative Eric Brooks. 

Zenobia said Waukesha is ground zero in the fight for the soul of education. 

“We’ve seen parents rise up and run for school board against what is really the education establishment everywhere in this country that is fighting tooth and nail to keep these so-called progressive, far left indoctrination policies in place,” Zenobia told The Federalist. “The tide started to gain momentum back in 2020 and 2021 and it’s just continued all over the country.” 

But the DPW’s hefty investment in the Kenosha Unified School Board races paid off. The liberal candidates won the day.

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday supported two ballots questions that ban private and nonprofit grants in election administration — commonly referred to as Zuckbucks. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Pricilla Chang, dumped hundreds of millions into a 2020 grant program used to influence election administration in local offices. The program was administered by left-wing activists with the brunt of the money going to Democrat enclaves in critical swing states like Wisconsin. 

The rejection of Zuckbucks was a collective middle finger to Democrat Gov. Tony Evers, who has on multiple occasions vetoed bills aimed at banning private money in election administration. Wisconsin becomes the 28th state to prohibit or limit Zuckbucks-style elections funding. 

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