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Friday, April 12, 2024

University employees give millions to politicians, mostly to Democrats

A recent report by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reveals university employees nationwide are contributing more to political campaigns than ever before, with the bulk of the contributions going to Democratic candidates. 


According to the August CRP report, 76 percent of the education industry's total federal contributions for 2008 have gone to Democrats. Employees of universities have currently given over $7 million to federal candidates, parties and committees in the 2008 cycle, according to the CRP. 


In the 2004 election cycle, almost $38 million was given in contributions by the education industry. This is more than the amount given by oil or pharmaceutical drug companies, according to the CRP report. 


Charles Franklin, professor of political science, said the nationwide phenomenon reflects the fact that state support for higher education has become more limited all over the country. University employees may then believe there is more at stake in terms of politicians' decisions about universities, according to Franklin. 


The university has become more of a political football than it was in previous years, and so employees of the university, of course, are part of that political football,"" Franklin said. 

Franklin said one reason university faculty members are mainly donating to Democratic parties is because there is overwhelming evidence that university faculties are much more Democratic than Republican.  


""Just like every other citizen in the world, partisanship structures who you give to, and so Democratic faculty or staff tend, predominately, to give to Democratic candidates,"" Franklin said.  

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It would benefit the university to be a non-partisan issue rather than becoming identified with a party, according to Franklin. 


""This should be the University of Wisconsin, not the University of  


Democratic Wisconsin or the University of Republican Wisconsin,"" Franklin said. 

Franklin said it is unfortunate that an issue such as stem cell research, for example, is made into a partisan issue when the university is so involved in the scientific research.  


""It would be a lot better if we were debating issues of how high the tuition should be and how high state support should be without contaminating those decisions with a Democratic versus Republican divide,"" Franklin said.  


Franklin said he would prefer that university faculty contribute nothing to any candidate and that both parties were supportive of the university. However, the reality of state politics and the decisions that affect the university are undeniable according to Franklin. 


""I think just like every other group in the state we respond by political contributions to the side that we perceive is less opposed to us,"" Franklin said.

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