Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin, accepted more than $200,000 in bundled lobbyist contributions during the final months before the 2010 elections, actions he had opposed in the Senate shortly before the donations occurred.
Feingold, who has positioned himself as an opponent of big money in politics and is attempting to win back the Wisconsin Senate seat he lost a Republican opponent, Sen. Ron Johnson, in 2010, has also accepted $35,000 during the current election cycle in bundled lobbyist contributions from the controversial J Street PAC.
According to a post-general election lobbyist disclosure report from 2010, $237,926.27 was given to the Feingold Senate Committee between July 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2010.
These contributions included donations amounting to $98,490.14 from the J Street PAC, $83,481.07 from the Council For a Livable World, $17,879.02 from the Human Rights Campaign, $16,426.04 from the League of Conservation Voters, and $21,650 from the American Association for Justice Political Action.
Feingold has long positioned himself on the forefront of campaign finance reform, pushing for stricter ethics legislation, including a requirement to disclose lobbyist bundlers, in 2007.
"Regardless of how reforms might impact us, our priority must be to convince our constituents that we are here to advocate their best interests, not those of well-connected lobbyists," he said in August 2007. "Ethical conduct in government should be more than an aspiration. It should be a requirement."
Feingold, despite the donations, recently said that he would be open to supporting legislation that would regulate donations coming from lobbyists and federal contractors.
"I am certainly open to supporting legislation, within constitutional limitations, that regulates the contributions of interested parties such as lobbyists or federal contractors, whose contributions raise a particularly strong danger of corruption or the appearance of corruption," Feingold claimed in June 2015.
Feingold broke his "Garage Door Pledge," in which he promised that a majority of donations to his campaign would come from individuals in the state of Wisconsin, in 2010 and again during the 2016 election cycle. Currently, a majority of his donations are coming from outside the state.
Feingold’s campaign did not return a request for comment on the contributions.