Could it be any more obvious that Kenoshan Dennis Troha is buying Governor Jim Doyle?
The approach gives Dennis Troha, a developer pushing for a Kenosha casino, a way to send $50,000 more the governor's way.
Just like four years ago, non-profit Boys & Girls Clubs will pay inaugural expenses through contributions and split the money that is left over.
In 2003, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha collected donations that were used to pay off $525,000 in inauguration bills, and will act in that role again, said Wally Graffen, CEO of Kenosha's club. Four years ago, the Kenosha club distributed more than $225,000 in profits among 28 clubs statewide.
Troha "was the major influence behind a Boys & Girls Club starting up in Kenosha," according to the club's Web site.
Troha "has been a friend of our organization for years," but he doesn't mix that support with his business deals, Graffen said.
Troha and his wife, Natalie, plan to give $50,000 to help underwrite the governor's inaugural, but it has nothing to do with his casino goal, said family spokesman Evan Zeppos.
All of the Trohas' gifts to Kenosha-area charities - including the Boy Scouts, Shalom Center, soccer clubs, the Rotary or Days of Discovery highlighting the waterfront - are given "because of their deep and abiding love" for Kenosha, Zeppos said.
The Trohas gave $25,000 - the maximum suggested then - to Doyle's inaugural in 2003, before Dennis Troha asked the state and federal governments to approve a Menominee Indian casino at Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha.
The Trohas were the only individual donors to give at that level, but eight groups - including the Forest County Potawatomi, Miller Brewing and Philip Morris - also gave $25,000 each.
Members of Troha's family have given $192,250 to Doyle in past years, records show, and Dennis Troha has also donated $100,000 to the Democratic Governors Association and $30,000 more to the Democratic Party.
Troha has given $10,000 to Doyle's campaign in each of the past two campaign cycles, the maximum allowed by law. He can give additional money to the inaugural committee because those donations are not governed by campaign finance laws.
Troha is seeking to turn Kenosha's dog track into an $808 million Menominee Indian casino. If the plan is approved by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, it will need Doyle's backing to proceed.
Doyle has never said whether he would approve the deal, and spokesman Dan Leistikow said Wednesday that neither Troha nor any other executive who donates to the inauguration will get any special consideration.
If Doyle has to make a decision on a Kenosha casino, he will do so based on the "entire record" of federal, state and local documents and support - not on any donations, Leistikow said.
Leistikow said companies and individuals are asked to pay for the governor's inaugural so no tax funds are used.
"This is the legal way you fund inaugurals," Leistikow said. "It's totally consistent with the law."
Spokesmen for the Forest County Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk Nation said their tribes had not yet decided whether they would contribute toward the governor's inauguration, as they did four years ago.
The Potawatomi oppose Troha's proposed Kenosha casino.
"Indian gaming is supposed to help Native Americans, not millionaire developers," Potawatomi spokesman Ken Walsh said.
Miller Brewing spokesman Peter Marino said the company plans to donate $10,000 to help pay for Doyle's inaugural. He said the donation gives it no unfair advantage in the Capitol because the money goes to a charity.
"It's a good thing the governor does," Marino added.
But Jay Heck, executive director of the non-partisan group Common Cause in Wisconsin, said businesses give to underwrite inaugural parties for the influence it can buy them later.
Inaugurations don't have to be large, formal events that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Heck said.
"There are other ways to pay for inaugurations - scale them down, price them more modestly and have small contributions from citizens who attend, rather than big corporations seeking favorable treatment underwrite the cost," Heck said.
"They would likely be a lot more fun if done this way, too."