By Eric Timmons
In the waning days of Donald Trump’s doomed election campaign, he was able to count on two old supporters in La Crosse to come through with a $300,000 donation to a key fundraising committee.
Those allies were Kwik Trip CEO Don Zietlow, who gave $200,000, and LHI founder Don Weber, who chipped in with $100,000. Both donations were made Sept. 30 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising account for the Trump 2020 campaign, the Republican National Committee, and a number of state party committees.
Weber and Zietlow had steered clear of making a direct donation to Trump or his associated fundraising committees for most of 2020, leaving open the possibility they had soured on the president. But late in the game, they came good for Trump, whom they both backed with big donations in 2016.
Zietlow’s $200,000 donation to Trump Victory brings his total donations to Republican committees and candidates since January 1, 2019, to $374,700. Weber has donated $171,800 to Republican candidates and committees over the same period. All the numbers come from the Federal Election Commission’s public database of campaign finance reports. Not included are donations the two wealthy La Crosse businessmen may have made to candidates for state office.
A review of contributions to fundraising committees for Joe Biden’s campaign from La Crosse addresses found no six-figure donors, or any who came close to the contribution levels of Weber and Zietlow. But the donations to Republican causes by the pair were dwarfed by Ron Wanek, another rich corporate leader with local links. Wanek is the chairman of the board of Ashley Furniture Industries, which is headquartered in Arcadia. Since Jan. 1 of 2019, Wanek has made $771,700 in political donations to Republican candidates and committees. The total includes at least $459,700 to the Trump Victory committee.
Click here to find out how you can support our journalism by becoming a member of the La Crosse Independent.