Thursday, August 27, 2015

CC/WI to Hold Free Public Forum Sept. 14 in Wausau:
Is the Nonpartisan Wisconsin GAB Still a Good Fit for Us?




           Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board
                 ~ Touted as a national model for promoting transparency in government
                 ~ Some legislators are calling for its dissolution
                    Is this in the best interest of Wisconsin citizens?

Join us to hear several perspectives on this important issue and to share your views!

Monday, September 14, 2015
6:30 – 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin-Marathon County
Main Building - Auditorium
518 South 7th Avenue

Wausau, Wisconsin

Panelists:
Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck
Former State Representative Mandy Wright
Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
Colleen Adams, Data & Targeting Manager, Wisconsin Voices
Matt Rothschild Executive Director, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Invited, not confirmed: State Representative Dave Heaton (R-Wausau), State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington)

Click here to download and share/print event flyer



               Presented by:
                                      

                Co-Sponsored by:

                                                   


                                                   

                                                   

                                                   


                                                   



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Thursday, August 13, 2015

24 Current Republican Legislators Supported a Non-Partisan GAB Before They Opposed It




Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Thursday - August 13, 2015


1.  24 Current GOP State Legislators Supported the establishment of the non-partisan,
     independent Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in 2007. Now?

2.  Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's strict adherence to the rule of law
     may have prevented Scott Walker's defeat in 2012 recall election.

3.  Redistricting Reform Petition now exceeds 1,000 signatures! Have you signed it?




1. Earlier this year, Governor Scott Walker, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared all out war on the non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) because they hate that the GAB has done exactly what it was established to do in 2007 – respect and adhere to the law governing Wisconsin's election, campaign finance, ethics and lobby law.

Walker, Fitzgerald and Vos particularly despise the fact that the six retired judges that comprise the GAB voted unanimously in 2012 to authorize an investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Scott Walker's campaign during the recall election, with outside special interest groups (Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce).

Never mind that the law against such coordination was very clear at that time and the GAB decision was completely in accordance with established law.

What really irks Walker, Fitzgerald and Vos is that the GAB is not controlled by them and has not done their bidding. And so now, this Fall, the Republican majority will move in September to eviscerate the independence and non-partisanship of the GAB and attempt to ram through their own legislation that will make the GAB a partisan tool firmly under their control. In doing so, the GOP will seek to dictate the outcome of Wisconsin elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying law and manipulate it in such a way that they will gain permanent political power and control in the clean, honest, accountable and nationally-admired state formerly known as Wisconsin.

CC/WI worked very closely with legislators – primarily Republicans – in devising and working to advance and establish the GAB, which finally occurred during a Special Session of the Legislature in January, 2007 when it was enacted into law. The GAB replaced the discredited, hyper-partisan State Elections and State Ethics Boards, that had utterly failed to uncover, identify, investigate and prosecute the rampant corruption that was occurring under the Capitol Dome during the late 1990's and that culminated in the Legislative Caucus Scandal and the criminal charging of top State Senate Democratic and Assembly Republican leaders in 2002.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature fully realized the need for a strong, non-partisan state agency that had the ability to independently investigate corruption in state government. And after months of negotiations, in which CC/WI was intensely involved, the GAB was approved by a unanimous 33-0 vote in the State Senate and by a 97 to 2 vote in the State Assembly. Every Republican legislator in both chambers supported establishing the GAB.

But now, Fitzgerald and Vos – who both voted for the GAB – have reversed their position because they cannot tolerate the fact that the GAB doesn't do their partisan bidding. Now, they think they have the votes to destroy what they helped create just eight years ago – even if they have absolutely no justification for doing so.

Here is the complete listing of the 24 Republicans who voted to establish the GAB in 2007 and are still in the Legislature. Half of the 12 current GOP State Senators who voted for the GAB back then, were in the State Assembly at that time. And then there are 12 other GOP State Representatives then and now.

Assuming no Democratic State Senators or State Representatives are stupid enough to support the Republican plan to destroy the GAB, these 24 Republicans need to be reminded that they should not abandon their 2007 support for a non-partisan entity that enjoys the confidence of the vast majority of Wisconsin citizens and the admiration of national experts on American elections.

Contact them, as well as your own State Senator and State Representative. Tell them to keep their partisan hands of the non-partisan GAB!



2. The integrity of Milwaukee County D.A. John Chisholm in adhering to the John Doe secrecy order in 2012 may have saved Scott Walker from defeat in the 2012 recall election. And yet Chisholm has been viciously and vilely attacked by Walker minions for doing what he is supposed to do to uphold the rule of law. Both former Milwaukee County D.A. E. Michael McCann, now on the CC/WI Board, and CC/WI Director Jay Heck comment in this excellent Brendan Fischer article about the very latest in the John Doe controversies that will not die, despite the herculean effort of Walker, his minions, the four impossibly compromised and conflicted conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Wall Street Journal editorial board and many other guardians of the corrupt status quo.



3. CC/WI is again playing a lead role in promoting and advancing non-partisan redistricting reform in Wisconsin this year. The "roll-out" of the legislative component will begin in earnest next month (stay tuned for details!). Our petition to state legislators urging them to support redistricting reform legislation, Senate Bill 58, which is modeled after Iowa's terrific, non-partisan redistricting process, recently passed the 1,000 mark!

Please urge your family, friends and neighbors who have not yet done so, to sign the petition and help us reach our 5,000 signature goal! Thank you.


Savor these spectacular Wisconsin Summer days while they are with us still!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck

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



Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703


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

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Common Cause in Wisconsin Statement on Governor Walker's Call to Dismantle the non-partisan Government Accountability Board



For Release: Monday - July 20, 2015

Governor Scott Walker's call today to eliminate the non-partisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) is completely misguided, self-serving and counter to the interests of all Wisconsinites who value a fair and independent state agency overseeing our elections, campaign finance laws, lobbying and ethics.

The GAB is a model for the nation and the only such entity in the country not under the control of partisan politicians. It was established to be that way in 2007, following the most serious political scandal in Wisconsin in the last century – the Legislative Caucus Scandal of 2001-2002 – after the partisan State Elections Board completely failed to identify and ferret out ongoing corruption in the State Capitol and which ultimately led to the removal from office of top five legislative leaders of both political parties.

Bipartisan legislation to establish the GAB passed with unanimous support in the State Senate and by a 97 to 2 vote in the Assembly in January of 2007. It was a Republican initiative primarily devised by former State Senator Michael Ellis of Neenah that was intended to be non-partisan. A key provision in its creation was for the GAB to have the ability to independently investigate possible wrongdoing by elected officials. That was the whole point.

Walker's call for the elimination of the GAB is simply revenge and retribution for the GAB unanimously approving the investigation of what was clearly a violation of Wisconsin campaign finance law in 2011-2012. The elimination of the GAB will only raise further questions about whether or not Walker and his campaign were involved in illegal activity. And it will be viewed by citizens as another attempt to simply eliminate any entity that puts adherence to the law above partisan fealty.




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



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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Statement of Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin on Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision Ending Walker John Doe Investigation



For Release: Thursday - July 16, 2015

As expected, a highly compromised Wisconsin Supreme Court majority has issued a highly flawed decision today ending the John Doe investigation of possible illegal coordination between Governor Scott Walker and his 2011-2012 recall campaign with outside special interest groups. The decision should be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Unless it is successfully appealed, the decision could conceivably now lead to unlimited coordination between outside spending groups with candidate committees and effectively render contribution limits meaningless in Wisconsin. Unlimited money, much or most of it secret and from outside of Wisconsin, could now flow into Wisconsin and be coordinated by candidates with outside groups to influence the outcome of our elections. Wisconsinites would be relegated to the sidelines watching helplessly as unlimited, secret special interest money dictates the outcome of our elections and seizes complete control of our state government.

No federal court decision has ever permitted the type of candidate-outside group coordination that this completely compromised ruling seems to permit. Four of the justices of the court were the beneficiaries of dark money spent in their behalf and which was the heart of this case. They should have recused themselves and did not. The decision can and should be appealed.

Furthermore, by halting the investigation, Wisconsinites and the rest of the American people will never know if Scott Walker and his campaign engaged in illegal activity during 2011-2012 – information that is vital for the future of the state and nation.




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



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Monday, July 13, 2015

Another Unwarranted Attack on Clean Government in Wisconsin




Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Monday July 13, 2015


1.   Wisconsin GOP Attempts to Divert Attention from their Open Records Fiasco by       Launching an Unsubstantiated Assault on the Non-Partisan GAB and its long-time
      Director

2.   New Hope and Opportunity for Ending Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin Before
      2021

3.   CC/WI's Effort to Postpone Campaign Fundraising During Consideration of the State
      Budget Meets with Considerable Success



1. This past Friday afternoon, less than eight full days after trying – and failing – to destroy Wisconsin's Open Records laws, the very same Republican legislative leaders who perpetrated that assault, launched a second, completely unfounded attack on Wisconsin's non-partisan Government Accountability Board (GAB), the nation's only non-partisan state agency that oversees elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying law, and a model that other states aspire to emulate.

This latest attack is based on an opinion piece (not a news account) in The Wall Street Journal, which has long attacked Wisconsin's non-partisan GAB and our longstanding law that bars candidates for statewide and legislative office from coordinating campaign activities (including phony issue advocacy) with outside special interest groups.

The editorial board of The Journal, together with Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCG), have taken this position because of the illegal coordination alleged to have occurred between WCG and Governor Scott Walker and his campaign during the 2011-2012 recall elections. Both entities were the subject of a bi-partisan, "John Doe" investigation by five Wisconsin county district attorneys and a Republican Special Prosecutor, which was halted by two judges last year and is now pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Wall Street Journal, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Walker adherents call it "free speech." It's anything but that and it is not constitutionally protected. Others, including CC/WI, believe it very well could be "illegal campaign activity" and "corruption." The GAB correctly and unanimously authorized the John Doe investigation into this matter in 2012 and The Wall Street Journal and the exteme right wing have been misleadingly screaming bloody murder and seeking retribution against the GAB ever since. For no legitimate reason whatsoever.

This is their latest coordinated attack, timed to occur right before Scott Walker announces for the Presidency today in Waukesha.

Obviously, it is intended to draw attention away from the role Walker and the Republican leaders played during last week's budget fiasco where they were called out for attempting to completely destroy Wisconsin's Open Records law.

One of the leading proponents of eviscerating the Open Records law, State Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) is also leading the attack (and writing the legislation) to destroy the non-partisan GAB and make it a partisan instrument under strict Republican control. Knudson, a North Dakota veterinarian, issued this release on Friday, together with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), hoping that your attention would be diverted from the key role both played in the open records destruction plot. It won't be.

Also Friday, the two Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee who engineered the July 2nd open records-destroying vote in their committee, State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), issued their own "bait and switch" release calling on long-time and nationally-respected GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy to resign based on the totally biased, unsubstantiated and highly speculative Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Perhaps they would have been a bit more circumspect had they been called upon to resign for their disgraceful and substantiated role in trying to undermine our open records law. But we didn't and they weren't.

GAB executive director Kevin Kennedy issued a very appropriate response to the attack on the GAB and on him.

Should there be an investigation into what transpired between former IRS official Lois Lerner and Kennedy? Sure. But it's another right-wing smokescreen. The so-called "IRS Scandal," in which Lerner and others were accused of targeting only conservative organizations for possible illegal tax activity, has proven to be just another largely bogus, unsubstantiated and highly partisan attack on the Obama Administration, much like the incessant partisan Benghazi hearings and other imagined plots.

Make no mistake. The Wall Street Journal editorial, and the Wisconsin GOP attacks on the GAB and Kennedy were timed right before the Walker announcement for the Presidency to help "clear the deck" of the ongoing, very "troublesome" John Doe investigation – as well as to pave the way to make illegal campaign coordination legal in Wisconsin, and to quickly change the subject away from the Open Records law fiasco.

The Wisconsin State Journal laid it all out and nailed it in their Sunday editorial.

CC/WI's Director responded to the surprise attack on the GAB and Kennedy on Friday.

Obviously, there will be much more on all of this. And we will be on it.



2. Almost lost in all of the attention surrounding the state budget disaster and other outrages was some good news (beyond stopping, for now, the assault on the Open Records Law). On the heels of a recent and excellent U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 29th – which stipulated that citizens, not partisan legislators, have the ultimate power to determine state legislative and congressional boundaries following the Census every ten years – a federal lawsuit was launched last week in Madison aimed squarely at the extremely partisan, highly secretive and shockingly expensive (for taxpayers) 2011 redistricting process which resulted in only 10 percent of all state legislative general elections being even remotely competitive in 2014.

Some legal experts believe this lawsuit could be decided favorably yet this year and the 2011 maps would be thrown out and ordered redrawn prior to the 2016 elections. This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial makes a compelling case about why redistricting reform is so needed in Wisconsin, now.

Jay Heck was on "The Devil's Advocates" radio program on Friday to discuss the implications of the lawsuit, the lack of competition in Wisconsin general elections, and why that's a huge problem.

You can do something right now to help solve this problem. Sign our online petition TODAY urging the Wisconsin Legislature to support non-partisan redistricting reform. If you've already signed this petition, grab five friends or family members and have them sign this, too!



3. In late May, CC/WI got wind of a big Madison fundraising event being held by Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair, State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), with "special guest" JFC Co-Chair, State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), right when the JFC was still making important decisions about the then-unfinished state budget. We called on her to postpone the May 28th event. And, to Darling's credit, she responded affirmatively and postponed her event and another one in June.

In June, we also called on State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Lassa, likewise, complied and postponed her event.

The State Senate Democratic Committee likewise postponed an event they had scheduled for June 30th.

We were concerned about legislative fundraising events scheduled to occur before or on the statutory deadline for the legislature to complete their work on the state budget, which is June 30th.

To that end we called on three other events at the very end of June to be postponed: a Milwaukee Assembly Democratic fundraiser, and events scheduled by State Representative John Maaco (R-Green Bay), and State Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee).

All apparently thumbed their noses at us and held their campaign cash grabs anyway. To their discredit.

Still, it was gratifying to force the postponement of a number of campaign cash grabs at a time when legislators should be solely focused on sound fiscal policy for the citizens of Wisconsin, and not on their own campaign accounts.

Thanks to all of you who called and wrote legislators and expressed your opinions on this matter. We forced some change for the good for a change!




CONTACT:

Jay Heck

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



Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703


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

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