Madison, Dane County

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Dozen Legislative and Statewide Candidates Have Told CC/WI of Their Support for Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform Thus Far



For Release: Wednesday - July 30, 2014


Last Thursday, Common Cause in Wisconsin challenged candidates of all political parties to contact us if they support establishing a non-partisan redistricting process for Wisconsin to be in place for the next time redistricting occurs – in 2021. The reform, based on our neighboring state of Iowa's highly successful and respected 34-year-old redistricting process, would still give the Wisconsin Legislature the final say on the new district boundaries, but they would actually be drawn by the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, without partisan political considerations. This would serve the best interests of citizens rather than those of the partisan legislative leaders, which is the case now. Legislators could vote up or down on the LRB-drawn maps, but without interference or amendment.

This reform, which was embodied in the 2013-2014 legislative session in Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163, was the most widely-supported and written-about political reform in Wisconsin over the past two years and had the editorial support of an unprecedented 19 Wisconsin daily newspapers.

Non-partisan redistricting reform is, and should be, an issue voters consider in the 2014 elections.

Thus far, 12 state legislative and statewide candidates have contacted us indicating their support for the "Iowa Plan." This is as much an exercise in seeing who is paying attention as it is in finding out who supports this common sense reform. Any candidate – including incumbent legislators running for re-election who may have been co-sponsors of AB 185 or Senate Bill 163 – must proactively contact us by email, by phone 608/256-2686 (leave a message if no answer) or by a simple sentence or two letter to CC/WI, P.O. Box 2597, Madison, WI 53701-2597.

As of today, here is the list of supporters.

We are making this listing available to all Wisconsin citizens and to the statewide media, and will be updating it as new supporters contact us.

So pay attention!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

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Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Which State Legislative and Statewide Candidates Support Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform?



Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Thursday - July 24, 2014





CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686





1. Check Here to See Which Candidates for State Public Office Support Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform for the 2014 Elections. (Candidates must contact us to be listed.)

2. Governor Walker and His Allies Continue to Try to Mislead Voters and Obfuscate the Facts in the Two-Year-Old "John Doe" Criminal Investigation

3. Candidates Refusal to Participate in Issues Forum Proves Why Wisconsin Needs More Competitive Elections and an End to Partisan Gerrymandering





1. During the 2013-2014 Legislative Session, non-partisan redistricting reform emerged as the leading political reform initiative in the media and among citizens throughout Wisconsin. CC/WI helped unite pro-reform legislators behind a single measure – Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163 – that is modeled after Iowa's highly successful, 34-year-old redistricting process that takes the partisan politics out of redistricting and delegates the boundary-drawing to a non-partisan state entity that does not utilize partisan political considerations in their task.

This issue received the unprecedented endorsement of 19 Wisconsin daily newspaper editorial boards and thousands of citizens expressed their support for ending gerrymandering in letters to editors, communications to legislators and by attending one of six "reform forums" CC/WI organized over 2013-2014 in Beloit, Whitewater, Stevens Point, Madison, Eau Claire and Racine.

While the legislative leadership opposed this reform and refused to hold even a public hearing during the legislative session, redistricting reform will be very much an issue during the upcoming election season.

Any statewide or state legislative candidate (or their authorized proxy) who supports the "Iowa Plan" and would like to see their name listed here should contact CC/WI by phone at (608) 256-2686 (leave a message if no answer), by email or by letter: CC/WI, P.O. Box 2597, Madison, WI 53701-2597. Citizens can urge candidates to support non-partisan redistricting reform and request that they get their names on this list. Candidates must be pro-active to have their names appear on this site. Even incumbent legislators running for re-election who co-sponsored AB 185/SB163 during the last legislative session must contact us to be on the list.

We will update the list constantly and will have a tab near the top of our website for anyone to check to see who is on it and therefore in support of the Iowa Plan.



2. For two years, until this May, Governor Scott Walker's 2012 campaign has been under active criminal investigation for possible illegal coordination with outside spending groups such as Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. In May, Federal Judge Rudolph Randa halted the investigation, but his flawed and hyper-partisan decision is under appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago.

Writer and legal counsel Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy has written a sensational series of articles this month on these legal and political machinations and has consulted with CC/WI for our take on this critical and still very relevant issue that will ultimately determine whether or not Wisconsin's remaining campaign finance laws will survive or be eviscerated altogether – which Governor Walker and his allies seem determined to do. These articles are a must read for anyone who cares about honest, accountable state government and politics in Wisconsin:

McCutcheon’s Supreme Cynicism
- July 7, 2014

Exclusive: After Subpoenas in Walker Criminal Probe, WI GOP Sought to Quietly Change Law

- July 15, 2014

WI GOP Endorses Basis for Walker Criminal Probe
- July 23, 2014




3. Our friends at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin scheduled an issues forum in the 6th Congressional District for citizens to come hear and find out about the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives to replace 36-year-old incumbent, Congressman Tom Petri of Fond du Lac. Two of the candidates, State Senators Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) and Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) refused to participate in the debate because they were at odds with the LWV-WI's warranted opposition to Wisconsin's extreme and unconstitutional voter photo ID law (Act 23).

Grothman and Leibham were trying to "out right wing" each other to pander to the ultra-conservative activist base. The 6th Congressional District is a "safe" Republican district, in part due to gerrymandering, and so Grothman and Leibham feel they do not have to participate or even engage with a non-partisan organization like the League, because they would likely not suffer any serious adverse political consequences. Instead, the election becomes even more polarizing.

Bill Barth
, the conservative editorial page editor of the Beloit Daily News, captured perfectly, exactly what is wrong with this entire situation, in this recent editorial.




Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Political Bombshell in Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker at Center of "Criminal Scheme"



Thursday - June 19, 2014

Political Bombshell in Wisconsin:
Governor Scott Walker at Center of "Criminal Scheme"


Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ordered the release of numerous documents pertaining to an ongoing criminal investigation of possible illegal coordination or collusion between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign and outside special interest groups supporting Walker and/or attacking Democrats during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections in Wisconsin.

This secret "John Doe" investigation commenced two years ago, following Walker's victory in the June, 2012 recall election, and was undertaken by three Democratic district attorneys, two Republican district attorneys, and a Republican Special Prosecutor who said that he had voted for Walker in the recall election.

This is not a partisan "witch hunt" – as supporters of Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth (which spent more than $9 million in support of Walker and Republicans in 2012) have misleadingly charged.

Included in the documents today was a 2012 email from Scott Walker himself to Karl Rove, the former top political adviser to President George W. Bush in which he tells Rove how one of Walker's former top political deputies, R.J. Johnson, was now an adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth and that he would lead the coordination campaign of outside groups with Walker and other Republican campaigns.

In Wisconsin, such coordination is illegal – even if it does not involve express advocacy and only issue advocacy – because such coordination constitutes a political contribution to a candidate. This has been state law for many years and it is the issue at the heart of the investigation.

Today's revelations are the first that directly implicate Governor Walker and the Walker campaign. For more details go here.

Common Cause in Wisconsin has called for the investigation to continue and has been critical of repeated partisan attempts to undermine and block it.




CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)




Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org

Read More...


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform as an Election Year Issue



Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Tuesday - June 17, 2014





CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686





1. Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform as an Election Year Issue
2. 37th and Final CC/WI "Reform Forum" in Racine Draws Near Capacity Audience




1. During the 2013-2014 Wisconsin legislative session that ended in early April, political reform was clearly not a priority for the majority party or the Governor unless you define political reform as making it more difficult for Wisconsin citizens to vote or making it easier for special interest lobbyists to make campaign contributions to legislators, sooner – or at any time – and to completely corrupt the public policy-making process in the State Capitol. But, despite the implementation of this ongoing strategy to take Wisconsin politics back into the Age of the Robber Barons and the Gilded Age that has been underway for the past several years, one positive political reform has gained real traction and captured the attention of thousands of Wisconsin citizens and the editorial support of almost all of Wisconsin's daily newspapers: non-partisan redistricting reform. This issue has received more press attention, editorial support and has generated more citizen letters to the editors and to legislators than any other political reform issue in memory. Our neighbor, Iowa has had non-partisan redistricting in place since 1981, and Wisconsin needs it desperately – and we need to get it in place before the next redistricting process occurs in 2021.

During 2013-2014 pro-reform legislators united behind a single vehicle – Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163 – identical measures that would keep the responsibility of redrawing state legislative and congressional district lines after each decennial census through an up or down vote of the Wisconsin Legislature, but at the same time, delegate the actual task of drawing the new district boundaries to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, who would utilize decidedly non-partisan criteria in which to do so.

To review all that was done and the progress that was made in advancing non-partisan redistricting reform during 2013-2014, go here. Read veteran state Capitol reporter Steve Walter's sad and sobering commentary about the lack of competitiveness in Wisconsin legislative elections (in which he cites CC/WI) here. CC/WI State Governing Board Chair Bill Kraus also gives his analysis of the 2014 elections in the face of a horribly gerrymandered political map here.

Support for this fundamental reform ought to be a front-and-center election issue this year. CC/WI is urging newspaper editorial boards to make this issue one of their criteria for endorsement of statewide and state legislative candidates – and we urge all citizens to raise it as an issue as well. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) infamously said fairly recently "nobody cares" about redistricting reform. That's a lie, of course. What he really meant to say was that he hoped no one else would care so that he could control the next redistricting process in the same absolute, dictatorial, hyper-partisan, secretive and costly (to you, the taxpayers) way that his predecessor did in 2011.



2. On a beautiful late Spring evening recently, CC/WI held it's 37th and final "Reform Forum" in Racine and more than 75 citizens turned out to hear a lively panel discussion followed by questions and comments with State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine), State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), League of Women Voters of Wisconsin executive director Andrea Kaminski and CC/WI director Jay Heck. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Representative Thomas Weatherston (R-Racine) were also invited to be panelists, but Vos had a scheduling conflict and Weatherston did not respond to our invite.

The discussion centered on the gerrymandered mess made of Racine and what was once part of one of the most competitive state senate districts in Wisconsin. As a result of the hyper-partisan 2011 redistricting process, Racine is now in a "safe" Democratic State Senate district, with the city of Kenosha and the communities around Racine combined with those outside of Kenosha to form a safe Republican State Senate district and more safe Republican Assembly districts there. What happened in 2011 to Racine, Kenosha and the communities nearby is almost a textbook example of why the current partisan system of gerrymandering controlled by Robin Vos is such a raw deal for voters. There were other issues raised at this animated forum which was covered in the Racine Journal-Times here.

Racine was our final "reform forum" as CC/WI will begin to do other types of events beginning later this year and in the future. Our very first such forum was held in Green Bay in January of 2007 and since that time we have been in almost every population center in Wisconsin – some of them more than once as we attempted to help educate the thousands of Wisconsinites who attended and participated in these events. We brought legislators of both political parties together with academic experts, other reformers, opponents of reform, newspaper editorial page editors and others on panels to discuss and debate campaign finance reform, judicial independence, voting rights, electioneering disclosure, an independent state elections and ethics entity, public financing of state elections, corruption in state government and, of course, redistricting reform. CC/WI was the only political reform organization that invited panelists to our forums who did not agree with our positions and, while they did not always come (as in Racine), we at least tried. The CC/WI director has yet to be invited to any similar type of forum by those who oppose our positions on political reform.

Our forums were held primarily on university and college campuses in order to attract some students – the next generation of political participants to be involved in our democracy. In addition to going to Green Bay (twice), we also had forums in the Milwaukee area (4 times), Oshkosh (twice), Pewaukee, La Crosse (twice), Eau Claire (twice), Appleton (twice), Sheboygan, Baraboo, Kenosha, Janesville (twice), Madison (4 times), Sturgeon Bay, Whitewater, Beloit, Stevens Point (twice), Wausau, Middleton, Spring Green, Green Lake, Menasha, Greenfield, Mazomanie, and River Falls.

We had many wonderful panelists – elected officials and others from all over the political spectrum, including current and former State Senators Rob Cowles, Dave Hansen, Carol Roessler, Julie Lassa, Dale Schultz, Jon Erpenbach, Mike Ellis, Tim Cullen, Jim Sullivan, Peggy Rosenzweig, Walter John Chilsen, Bob Wirch, John Lehman, Tim Carpenter, Tim Weeden, Jennifer Shilling, Dan Kapanke, Margaret Farrow, Jessica King, Mordecai Lee, Kathleen Vinehout, Fred Risser, Pat Kreitlow, Cal Potter, and current or former State Representatives Peter Barca, Jeff Stone, Jeanette Bell, Donna Seidel, Jill Billings, David Martin, Dean Kaufert, Penny Bernard Schaber, Steve Doyle, Andy Jorgenson, Jon Richards, Spencer Black, Bert Grover, Dick Spanbauer, Gordon Hintz, Jim Soletski, Jeff Smith, Fred Clark, Dana Wachs and Kristen Dexter. Also, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Patrick Crooks and Ann Walsh Bradley, and former U.S. Congressman David Obey. And many wonderful academic experts, journalists and reform colleagues such as Andrea Kaminski of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and the legendary Bill Kraus, our CC/WI Chair.

Thanks everyone! It was a great run and we did a lot of good, we hope.



Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

In the News - June 2014



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