Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker vastly out-raised and outspent his Democratic challenger in the state's recall election, largely on the strength of major donations from across the country.
One reason for that was a quirk in Wisconsin law, which lets a governor in Walker's situation bypass limits on political donations.
Wisconsin law says candidates for governor normally may not take donations of more than $10,000 each. That was the limit under which Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat, operated in the recall election being decided Tuesday at the polls.
But as governor, Walker had a different set of rules. A somewhat obscure state law passed in 1987 says that when a governor is facing a recall challenge, the normal donation limits are suspended for "the payment of legal fees and other expenses."
"What doesn't qualify for 'other expenses'? Not much," says Bill Lueders, who directs the Money and Politics Project at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
For months, Lueders has been combing through campaign laws, financial disclosures, expense reports and other primary documents.
"Tom Barrett does have to abide by this $10,000 limit on individual contributions [and] he has gotten, as of today, 26 contributions of $10,000," Lueders says.
But Walker had more than four times the number of $10,000 contributions as Barrett, he says, and because Walker didn't have to abide by that limit at all, he raised 111 contributions of more than $10,000 each — largely from outside of Wisconsin.
"Fifty-nine percent of his overall contributions come from people in other states," Lueders says.