Mary Burke hauls in big bucks from celebrity friends


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — When it comes to campaign handouts, Mary Burke has some interesting friends.

The latest campaign finance report from Burke, the Democrats’ presumptive candidate for governor in November’s election, shows the Madison school board member took in approximately $3.6 million in the first half of 2014, pocketing campaign checks from a diverse group of liberals.

Over the period, Burke’s big-donor list includes the former governor of Wisconsin, a wealthy Hollywood producer and Jay Leno’s wife. Also among the big Burke spenders are two of President Obama’s biggest national fundraisers, and one of the owners of the Chicago Cubs.

Burke’s contributors come from California to New York, puncturing the candidate’s recent lamentations on outside money controlling Wisconsin elections.

MARY’S FRIENDS: Democrat candidate for governor Mary Burke has collected a diverse lineup of campaign contributors, from a co-owner of the Cubs to the wife of former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno.

In these campaign finance dog days of summer, things are just beginning to heat up.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker reported raising $8.3 million between January and June, with about $7.6 million cash on hand. While Walker leads Burke in out-of-state contributions — 55 percent of contributions over the period to Burke’s approximately 34 percent — the Democrat has taken in a friendly share of her financing from big donors beyond the Badger State’s borders.

Take for example, Oakland, Calif., real estate magnate Wayne Jordan, and fellow high roller Quinn Delaney, each writing checks of $5,000 to Burke’s campaign.

As the San Francisco Chronicle has reported, Jordan is one of Obama’s top nation fundraisers. In one year alone, Jordan wrote $200,000 in checks to Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting Obama, and another $200,000 to American Bridge 21St Century, a liberal super PAC charged with attacking conservatives.

The Chronicle says Delaney is a former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and San Francisco’s liberal Tides Foundation, the left’s dark money managers. If Burke is all about campaign finance disclosure and keeping contributions at home, she struck out twice with this donor.

Among Burke’s more famous contributors is Macia Carsey, better known as Marcy Carsey.

Carsey is part of a the two-person team, with Tom Werner, that brought America some of the most memorable situation comedies of the 1980s and ‘90s, including, “The Cosby Show,” “Roseanne,” “3rd Rock From the Sun,” and “That ‘70s Show.”

Carsey chipped in $5,000 for the Burke cause, too.

Former “Tonight Show Host” Jay Leno may be out of the night shift funny business, but his left-leaning wife, Mavis, is busier than ever handing out campaign checks to liberal candidates. Mavis Leno, an extremely active feminist, donated $2,000 to Burke’s campaign in the six-month reporting period.

Also on the celebrity list of donors, albeit B-list: Carol Ann Leif. The Los Angeles-based writer, actress and, if you will, comedian, gave Burke’s campaign $5,000.

Check out her act in 2010, where she calls the daughter of conservative activist Sarah Palin “(expletive deleted) retard,” and defining for her audience the contexts of the word, “gay.” As Leif points out, Palin’s son is mentally challenged.

Leif is a long-time activist for the National Clinic Access Project, according to her bio on the Feminist Majority Foundation, of which Leif is a board member. She is the daughter of the famed Lew Wasserman, who led the old MCA Records and was, in his time, one of the biggest donors to national Democratic campaigns.

Burke’s other famous feminist friends include Peg Yorkin, co-founder and chairwoman of the Feminist Majority Foundation and ex-wife of television production legend Bud Yorkin, responsible for 1970s classics, “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Sanford and Son,” and its much less successful spinoff sitcom, “Grady.”

Peg Yorkin sent Burke a check for $1,000.

Another prominent feminist, Laura Ricketts, donated $5,000 to Burke’s campaign. Ricketts and her brothers own the Chicago Cubs. The very active Democratic Party fundraiser serves as chairwoman of LPAC, a lesbian-supported super PAC.

“Our goal is to elect pro-lesbian, pro-women candidates to office, whether they’re men or women or gay or straight or Democrat or Republican,” Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune.

Burke’s politically connected donors include former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, the Democrat she served under as state commerce secretary.

Doyle donated $5,000 to Burke’s campaign fund. So did Doyle’s wife, Jessica, whose address on the financial disclosure forms is 99 Cambridge Road, Madison — also known as the Executive Residence, you know, where Walker lives now. Wishful thinking on the part of the former first lady?

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was among Burke’s heftiest donors, sending the candidate $10,000. Abele’s wife, Miriam, did the same. That’s a good chunk of change, even for a guy earning close to $130,000 a year.