Video 1: What
is a

Eckdahl WIDPAC

WIDPAC Chair Dr. Emily Eckdahl explains how PACs help groups like the WDA build positive relationships with lawmakers.

Video 2: How does WIDPAC work?
Eckdahl 2WIDPAC

Dentists can give to WIDPAC in two ways - unrestricted and direct giver, where you decide which candidates benefit from your contribution.

Video 3: WIDPAC's key accomplishments

Legislative Advocacy Committee Chair Dr. Pat Tepe shares how WIDPAC helped dentistry achieve big wins in Madison.  

Video 4: Deciding

Eckdahl 3WIDPAC

WIDPAC supports both Democrats and Republicans – we support candidates who support us. Learn how those decisions are made.

Video 5: What about
member dues?


Member dues support WDA advocacy to a point, but Executive Director Mark Paget explains that state law forbids associations to use dues for political contributions.

Video 6:

It's worth


Drs. Ryan and Emma Dodge ask: What would you spend to make sure Wisconsin’s laws and public policies support your practice, your patients and oral health?

Video 7: A young
dentist's perspective

teduits WIDPAC

Dr. Drew teDuits gives because young dentists have the most to gain – and lose – when lawmakers make oral health decisions.


Two ways you can join WIDPAC

By law, WDA membership dues cannot be used to support political candidates. WIDPAC giving is funded entirely by the voluntary individual contributions of member dentists. There are two ways you can participate:  

  • WIDPAC Unrestricted Giving: Funds are kept in one large account and used at the discretion of the WIDPAC Board to support state-level candidates who are proven supporters of oral health, as well as those in leadership positions.

Contribute to WIDPAC

  • Direct Giver: Your contribution goes into a non-interest bearing account and, upon your approval, is disbursed to specific state candidates – keeping your money in your control.

Contribute to Direct Giver

Wisconsin law requires that PAC contributions come from individuals only – your contribution must come from a personal account and not a business or organization. You can choose to give once a year, or make monthly contributions.

All contribution amounts are welcome. The following levels receive special recognition, including a dated lapel pin, dedicated WIDPAC communications and WDA Journal and WDA.org listings.

  • Bronze: $50
  • Silver: $250
  • Gold: $500
  • Platinum: $1,000+


WIDPAC Successes

Positive lawmaker relationships built through WIDPAC have made the WDA a leader in oral health advocacy. Legislative victories made possible by WIDPAC include:

  • Passage of Assignment of Benefits legislation, putting patients – not insurance companies – in charge of their dental benefits. (2024)
  • Entering Wisconsin into the Interstate Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact, supporting license portability by authorizing states to coordinate standards to allow qualified dentists and dental hygienists to practice across state lines (2024)
  • New scholarships for Marquette University School of Dentistry students who agree to practice in Wisconsin dental health shortage areas upon graduation, keeping more dentists in Wisconsin and serving vulnerable populations (2024)
  • Inclusion of $20 million in the 2023-24 State Budget to train more dental professionals at Wisconsin technical colleges (2023)
  • Authorization of Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries (2022)
  • Passage of historic 40% dental Medicaid reimbursement increase (2022)
  • Passage of Wisconsin’s first dental Medicaid Pilot Program, which increased Medicaid reimbursement rates in 4 counties (Brown, Marathon, Polk and Racine) and is still in effect today (2016)
  • Authorization of charity care licensing for out-of-state providers (2014)
  • Establishment of a common informed consent standard for specialty healthcare providers, including dentists (2014)
  • Enactment of non-covered services legislation that prevents dental insurance companies from setting fees for services they don’t cover (2013)
  • Updates to Wisconsin’s dental scope of practice to reflect the American Dental Association definition of dentistry (2013)
  • Regulation of mobile dental clinics (2012)




What is a political action committee?

A political action committee (“PAC”) is an organization formed by business, labor, or other special-interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates it supports. PACs allow individuals that support the same issues to combine their financial support to candidates into a significant single donation.

What is WIDPAC?

The Wisconsin Dental Political Action Committee (WIDPAC) is a voluntary, nonprofit, unincorporated group of dentists whose goal is to support state candidates who have demonstrated concern and support for the dental profession and the oral health of the people of Wisconsin. Relationships developed through WIDPAC help position the WDA as a trusted, dental-positive resource for state lawmakers and create a political environment where dentists are asked about, listened to and valued for their public policy views.

What does WIDPAC do for me?

State government plays a vital role in how you practice dentistry every day. From taxation, insurance and regulation to scope of practice, workforce and licensing, the Legislature makes decisions affecting every aspect of the dental profession in Wisconsin.

WIDPAC exists to help safeguard against counter-productive legislation and to ensure that the Wisconsin Dental Association has a constant, prominent presence at the State Capitol. When lawmakers in Madison address issues affecting the practice of dentistry – including the dental workforce shortage, dental insurance reform, Medicaid reimbursement and more – WIDPAC is hard at work making your voice heard.

Who oversees WIDPAC?

WIDPAC is supervised by a diverse committee of WDA member dentists that reports directly to the WDA Board of Trustees. Current committee members include:

  • Dr. Emily Eckdahl (Brookfield), chair
  • Dr. Timothy Cooper (Stevens Point) – Treasurer
  • Dr. Edward Chiera (Beloit) – Secretary
  • Dr. Russell Christian (Mt. Horeb)
  • Dr. Colleen Greene (Milwaukee)
  • Dr. Peter Hehli (Appleton)
  • Dr. Pat Tepe (Verona) – WDA Legislative Advocacy Committee Chair
  • Dr. Chris Hansen (Two Rivers) – WDA President-Elect
  • Dr. Christopher Johnson (Eau Claire) – WDA President
  • Dr. Tom Reid (Madison) – WDA Vice President

    Additionally, all WDA past-presidents are invited to participate on the WIDPAC committee.

Who decides where WIDPAC money goes, and how?

WIDPAC is governed by a set of bylaws and supervised by a diverse committee of WDA member dentists that reports directly to the WDA Board of Trustees. PAC support is determined by the WDA’s Government Services team and approved by members of the WIDPAC Board.

WIDPAC support is based on a variety of factors, including candidates’ support of our legislative issues, key committee assignments, bill sponsorship and co-sponsorship, and sustained constituent relationships.

I already pay membership dues. Why should I make a separate contribution to WIDPAC?

Federal and state law prohibits associations and other organizations from using member dues for political contributions.

Legislative advocacy is one of the most important things WDA does for member dentists, and dues dollars support this in a number of ways. They support our legislative office and talented government services staff in Madison. They allow the WDA to work with a highly respected and experienced contract lobbying firm. They support events like the WDA’s biennial Legislative Day and component legislative nights, and they support research and the development of position papers and other materials to help communicate WDA’s policy views.

These are all essential parts of advocacy, but they work better with a strong WIDPAC. By law, that depends on the voluntary, separate contributions of WDA members. Dues do not and cannot go to candidates.

What percentage of my contribution actually goes to candidates?

The Wisconsin Dental Association provides funding for all administrative expenses incurred by WIDPAC, including professional staff and office facilities. Therefore, 100% of your WIDPAC dollars go directly to candidates seeking state office who support the dental profession and oral health in Wisconsin.

Why should I join WIDPAC instead of contributing directly to candidates?

WIDPAC combines the resources of political funds, legislative expertise, and Wisconsin dentists to approach legislators on matters of vital concern through a well-organized, well-informed, united front. Often WIDPAC is able to support candidates in legislative districts where effective political participation by dentists might not be possible. However, WIDPAC encourages dentists to remain active with local campaigns.

Are WDA members required to join WIDPAC?

Joining WIDPAC is completely voluntary – it’s a great way to support and be involved in advocating for your patients and profession.

Can I contribute to WIDPAC through my dental practice?

Wisconsin law requires that PAC contributions come from individuals only – your contribution must come from a personal account and not a business or organization.

Is my WIDPAC contribution tax-deductible?

PAC contributions are not tax-deductible.

Which political party does WIDPAC support?

WIDPAC is not affiliated with any party and gives to both Democrats and Republicans every year. Decisions for support are based on the individual candidates and their views and records with regard to organized dentistry, regardless of affiliation.

Does the WDA endorse political candidates?

The association does not endorse candidates for office. 

Who is WIDPAC supporting this election cycle?

Click here to see the candidates WIDPAC has supported so far in 2023 and 2024.

How are WIDPAC contributions delivered to candidates?

A WIDPAC board member, dentist or WDA staff member is typically responsible for delivering WIDPAC campaign contributions to candidates. Campaign contributions are usually delivered at a campaign fundraiser, a campaign office, or at a personal meeting with the candidate.

What is the difference between “unrestricted giving” and “direct giver?”

With unrestricted giving, funds are kept in one large account and used at the discretion of the WIDPAC Board. Contributions go to state-level candidates – on both sides of the aisle – who are proven supporters of oral health, as well as those in leadership positions.

The direct giver option keeps your money entirely in your control. Your contribution goes into a non-interest bearing account and – upon your approval – is disbursed to specific state candidates.

Isn’t WIDPAC just buying votes?

No. Campaign contributions made to candidates are not intended to influence their positions on legislative issues. However, a contribution can make a difference in successfully electing a candidate to office who shares our concerns for the dental profession and the oral health of the people of Wisconsin. Contributions also help gain access to elected officials making it easier to establish longstanding relationships.

Are PACs legal?

PACs are legal, highly regulated and publicly reported. All PACs have the same $5,000 contribution limit. PACs, including WIDPAC, are overseen by a board and allocate funds through a careful and established budget process.

Does WIDPAC report its contributions and expenditures?

WIDPAC operations are transparent and compliant with all applicable laws. Because they are regulated by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, PACs are considered the most transparent form of political involvement. In Wisconsin, PACs are required to file campaign finance reports in January and July of each year. PACs that give to candidates or ballot referenda must file a pre-primary and pre-election report due eight days before the primary or general election.

Who sees how much I give to WIDPAC?

PAC finance reports are available on the Wisconsin Ethics Commission website.

Is WIDPAC successful?

Yes. WIDPAC has a proven track record of success. WDA legislative victories made possible by WIDPAC include the authorization of Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries in the state, the addition of $20 million in the 2023-24 State Budget to train more dental professionals at Wisconsin technical colleges, a historic 40% dental Medicaid increase and more.

How can I participate in WDA advocacy?

You can participate in WDA advocacy by attending the biennial WDA Legislative Day in Madison, attending component legislative events, getting involved in the WDA Legislative Advocacy Committee or simply by joining WIDPAC. For more ideas, contact WDA Director of Government Services Andrew “Gus” Gustafson at agustafson@wda.org or by calling 414-755-4130 (direct) or 608-514-4319 (cell).

What if I have more questions?

WDA Director of Government Services Andrew “Gus” Gustafson is happy to help. Contact Gus at agustafson@wda.org or by calling 414-755-4130 (direct) or 608-514-4319 (cell). You can also call the general number for the WDA’s Madison office, 608-250-3442 or email WIDPAC@wda.org.
Disclaimer: The WDA Direct Giver program consists of funds deposited by individual member dentists. Corporate campaign contributions are strictly prohibited in Wisconsin and there are no funds from annual dues in the Direct Giver program. The WDA does not “endorse” any candidate for public office – the sole purpose of this website is to inform member dentists when there are events being hosted by their dental colleagues and/or events in their area of the state. The goal is to provide the information and to let each individual member decide whether or not he or she wishes to contribute his or her personal Direct Giver funds to a dentist-hosted event and/or a local event for an elected official.