MADISON (AP) — A high-profile government watchdog group that maintains a popular database of all political donations made in Wisconsin announced Tuesday that it has lost half of its funding and faces an uncertain future.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign alerted its supporters in an email that the Joyce Foundation decided to no longer give the group money. Of the Democracy Campaign's $430,000 annual budget, $232,500 of it came from the Joyce Foundation, said the group's director Mike McCabe.
"It was kind of a lightning bolt," McCabe said. "We didn't have any advance warning. We had been invited to submit a proposal for continued funding but were just informed the board was going in a different direction."
A spokesman for the Chicago-based philanthropic group did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign began in 1995 and has received money from the Joyce Foundation for the past 16 years.
Joyce Foundation money was used to create the donor database in 1996, which has over 1 million records back to 1993 and allows users to search by donor, candidate, city or employer, McCabe said.
It costs $130,000 to pay the salaries and benefits of two employees who maintain the database, McCabe said. Without money to replace what is being lost from Joyce, it may not be possible to keep the database current, he said.
In addition to maintaining the donor database, the Democracy Campaign has also advocated and lobbied for campaign finance reform and other good government measures, while issuing regular reports tracking political donations and campaign spending.
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