Wisconsin State Capitol, Dane County
Photo Credit: Jackie Johnson, formerly of the Wisconsin Radio Network

Friday, January 22, 2016

Spanish (& English) Language Information on Wisconsin Voter ID




For Release: Friday - January 22, 2016

Spanish (& English) Language Information on Wisconsin Voter ID
For All Voters and for Senior Citizens

Common Cause in Wisconsin
, in collaboration with our friends and partners at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Voices, have designed, developed and distributed these concise, simple, two-sided information sheets about what Wisconsin voters need to know in order to cast a ballot this year with the 2011 Voter Photo ID law in effect for all 2016 elections.

We have general information for all eligible Wisconsin voters and one with specific information for seniors.

Here is the general information sheet in Spanish.

Here it is in English.

Here is the information sheet specifically for senior citizens in Spanish.

Here it is in English
.

We urge all Wisconsin voters to utilize this information and disseminate it as widely as you can.

The February Primary election is less than a month away – Tuesday, February 16th. So act now!

For more information go here.

If you have any questions, please contact Sandra Miller, the CC/WI Director of Information Services & Outreach, at smiller@commoncause.org or call: 608-658-2109.




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, January 14, 2016

Voting Well is the Best Revenge!/Wisconsin Leads in the "Dixiefication" of the Midwest




Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Thursday January 14, 2016


1.  Voting Well is the Best Revenge After the Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin in 2015
2.  Wisconsin Leads the Midwest in the "Dixiefication" of it's Politics and Policies
3.  CC/WI Director Jay Heck as Luke Skywalker in political cartoon/tweet



1. After what occurred this past Fall in Wisconsin, it might be tempting to just give up and tell ourselves that we cannot fight this rigged political system. After all – despite thousands of calls, letters and emails from citizens across the state opposing the destruction of the GAB and the GOP campaign finance "deform" legislation, (and virtually no citizen support for either) and unanimous opposition from every Wisconsin daily newspaper – Republican legislators still trashed key parts of our state's democracy in a way that will make all of our voices seem even less relevant and listened to by a Legislature and Governor who care only about consolidating one-party political control over our state.

We might want to just give up and whine a lot during 2016 – a critical election year in Wisconsin and in the nation – if there ever was one. But is that a realistic option? Of course it's not. It's not what we do!

Instead, we must organize and vote in numbers during 2016 that we have never achieved before. That is our only option!

But voting in Wisconsin is no longer as easy as it once was. The 2016 elections will be the first (other than a single primary election in 2011) in which a voter photo ID will be required in order to cast a ballot. If you have a valid Wisconsin driver's license, this might seem like no big deal. But for those who don't, this is a very big deal. If we hope to amplify our voices so that they will have the greatest impact, we must help ensure that every eligible voter in the state has the required form of ID they will need in order to vote.

Sounds like a pretty tall order. It is, but it is eminently doable. And we must do it!

If we all do these three things (and we do them beginning now and between the April 5th Spring general election for state supreme court justice and the Presidential Primary), we have a real shot at achieving the level of eligibility for Wisconsinites to be able to vote that we will need to prevail over the corrupt status quo.

A: Check to see that you are registered to vote at your current address. If you are not, please don’t put it off, register now.

B:
Look over this Voter ID fact sheet to ensure you have a photo ID that can be used as a voter ID. If you do not – again, don't put it off. Follow the steps on the back of that sheet and get an ID. Now.

C:
Ask between 15 and 20 people you know (family, friends, neighbors, anyone!) if they have an acceptable form of ID for voting, and if they don’t, help them get one. (If they don't have a ride to the DMV, offer to take them!) Make it your mission to be responsible for 15-20 other citizens to have what they need to cast a ballot on April 5th and make sure that they are able to do so and do it!

BONUS Step: Share our general voter ID fact sheet, our sheet for senior citizens and for college students on Facebook, Twitter, online forums – anywhere and any way you think helpful. You can also direct people to our website: www.commoncausewisconsin.org where these three fact sheets can be found and accessed on the upper right corner of our home page.

The best revenge for what Walker and his hyper-partisan allies did to democracy in Wisconsin during 2015 (and earlier) is the application of more democracy! Specifically – exercising your right to vote and ensuring that you and everyone you know is "properly equipped" to cast a ballot at the polls. The time for complaining is over. The time to take pro-active, positive steps to reclaim Wisconsin for the citizens of the state is now! Do it.

One of the foremost state advocates for elderly and aging issues over the past few decades is Tom Frazier, the former long-time executive director of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups and now, an effective member of the CC/WI State Governing Board. Tom has written this excellent opinion-editorial about what Wisconsin seniors need to know and do to make sure their ability to vote this year is not curtailed with voter ID in effect.



2. The "Dixiefication" of the Midwest in general, and of Wisconsin in particular, is all part of the Koch Brothers-financed master plan to gain permanent conservative Republican political control, nationally. Even if you are skeptical of conspiracy theories, as we are, it doesn't take a genius to see that this is a strategic, far-flung effort which is predicated on the notion that if it can be done in Wisconsin, it can be done almost anywhere and everywhere.

CC/WI is cited widely in this Salon.com article, which admittedly, didn't need to have such a crudely-worded title.



3. Thanks to Scott Milfred of the Wisconsin State Journal for the "shout out" tweet and to brilliant cartoonist Phil Hands for the brilliant cartoon!

How did Scott know CC/WI Director Jay Heck had long shaggy hair in the 70's? Actually, according to Jay, his hair was more long and stringy than shaggy.....




CONTACT:

Jay Heck

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


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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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin in 2015 - Looking Beyond the Ruins



Wednesday - December 23, 2015

Dear Friends,

If you have followed what has happened in Wisconsin during 2015, you know it has been a difficult year, to say the least. You also know that Common Cause in Wisconsin has been in the forefront of the opposition to Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislative leaders – Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) – and their obedient, hyper-partisan minions as they have shamelessly destroyed numerous state "good government" institutions and checks on political corruption, transparency, and accountability to the voters and taxpayers of Wisconsin.

This unprecedented devastation is encapsulated in this opinion-editorial we wrote and which was published recently in the Wisconsin Gazette.

But while bowed, we are certainly not broken; in fact, we are more inspired and determined than ever to reclaim our state from this hijacking.

CC/WI does an online "ask" for your financial support only at this time of year in order not to irritate you with constant, year-round pleas of support.

If you value our work and are able to help support us so that we can continue to be pro-active and effective, please consider making a year-end contribution to CC/WI. We would be very grateful to have your support! Here is how you can do so.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
from all of us at Common Cause in Wisconsin!








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...


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Walker signs GAB Destruction and Campaign Finance Deform into Law




For Release: Wednesday - December 16, 2015

Walker Enacts into Law the Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin

Sets Good Government Back to the 19th Century

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Governor Scott Walker today signed into law two measures that had the support of virtually no Wisconsin citizens and which were designed for one purpose only: to consolidate and maintain one party political control of Wisconsin as we head into a critical Presidential election year. Both measures were crafted and rammed through the Legislature to please Eric O'Keefe of Wisconsin Club for Growth, Charles and David Koch, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Right to Life, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, National Review magazine and a handful of other powerful politicians and right-wing partisans who are far more interested in consolidating their political power than in the well being of the vast majority of Wisconsin citizens.

Henry F. Potter
, the richest and meanest man in Bedford Falls, would have approved.

The corrupt status quo in Wisconsin has not only prevailed this past Fall, it has triumphed completely. For now. The majority party in the State Assembly and State Senate moved Wisconsin far back into the past, vanquishing more than 100 years of transparency and sensible limits on special interest political money – reforms which, in part – date back to the Governorship of Robert M. La Follette, Sr.

This assault on democracy, while supported and encouraged by Walker, was largely the handiwork of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and a cadre of hyper-partisan Republican legislators whose lust for total and absolute political control trumps any lingering respect they may have had for bipartisanship and for open, transparent, accountable and honest state government.

The destruction of the eight-year-old, non-partisan Government Accountability Board was based on completely discredited charges, false premises, character assassination and outright falsehoods. The enactment into law of both the GAB destruction (Assembly Bill 388) and campaign finance deform (Assembly Bill 387) measures – together with the recently enacted law to exempt political crimes from being investigated under the state’s John Doe process – will all combine to allow political corruption to take root and flourish in Wisconsin.

This will be remembered as one of the saddest and darkest chapters, at the end of one of the most horrendous legislative floor periods, in our state’s 167-year history – when honest, accountable and transparent state government was systematically dismantled in favor of hyper-partisan political advantage, retroactive decriminalization, and revenge.

The entire process under which Assembly Bills 387 and 388 were first unveiled in October, fast-tracked through a single public hearing in Madison only, and then rammed through committees and rushed to the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly and slammed through, before being stalled for a week in the State Senate, has been among the most abusive, disrespectful, secretive and utterly anti-democratic in the history of the Wisconsin Legislature.

The first measure up for preordained adoption and passage by the GOP-controlled Legislature was what we have been calling "Campaign Finance Deform." It will:

* Codify into law the ability of candidates to be able to collude and coordinate with outside special interest groups in campaigns as long as the outside groups avoid using a few selective and limited words in their communications, such as "vote for" or "defeat" or "support." This is what is known as "express advocacy." Outside communications that use virtually any other words, however negative or laudatory, can be coordinated with candidates and, furthermore, require no reporting or disclosure of the donors. This is relatively unprecedented in the nation. Only Florida allows this. But the Wisconsin measure goes even further than Florida by allowing coordination between candidates and outside groups who engage in express advocacy as long as there is no explicit discussion of that coordination! What it all means is that a tsunami of secret money from within and outside of Wisconsin can flood our elections to influence our votes. No other state allows for as many opportunities for political money to escape simple, basic disclosure as this legislation will allow in Wisconsin. The purpose is simple: to keep Wisconsinites as ignorant as possible about who is influencing elections and controlling public policy-making in this state.

* Allow political parties and legislative campaign committees (slush funds controlled by state legislative leaders) to collect significant corporate and other special interest money and individual contributions of any amount, with no limit for distribution to candidates and allows them to run undisclosed phony issue ads and to coordinate with phony issue ad groups. This will greatly enhance the power of the major political parties in the state but, much more alarmingly, will vastly increase the power of legislative leaders with unlimited political money to bestow upon, or withhold from candidates, at their whim, and to crush any dissent and threaten with primary opposition those legislators who defy the leaders and try to exercise independent judgment. This was at the heart of the 2001-2002 Legislative Caucus Scandal – political money in the Capitol compromising and undermining pubic policy-making. This provision will lead to far more secret money and opportunities to engage in illegal activity without detection.

* Eliminate the currently required information about employers from individuals who make political contributions to candidates for state office. All that will be required to be reported will be the name, address and occupation of the donor. Which tells the public very little about her or him.

Republican legislative proponents of AB 387 have continually made the completely false and erroneous claim that they "had to" craft this legislation in order to bring Wisconsin into "compliance" with the Citizens United vs. F.E.C. U.S. Supreme Court decision of 2010 and because of other court decisions since that time. While some revisions to Wisconsin's decades-old campaign finance law are necessary, the revisions in this legislation most certainly are not required. Coordination can still be limited and disclosure can certainly be required. This measure was specifically designed to shroud Wisconsin in an impenetrable veil of secrecy and dark money, destroy transparency, and inject Wisconsin with an unlimited and inexhaustible supply of special interest money to ensure Republican control of state government for the near and distant future. That's not democracy, it's oligarchy.

Then, the majority party undertook the dismantling and destruction of the 8-year-old, nonpartisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Twelve Republican State Senators who voted to establish the GAB in 2007, voted to destroy it. Nothing changed in the intervening 8 years except the politics. So these 12 State Senators were all for the GAB before they turned against it.

The hyped-up charges and accusations made against long-time State Elections Board and GAB Director Kevin Kennedy, and against the retired judges themselves, were vicious, scurrilous, hyperbolic, exaggerated, and – almost entirely – just untrue. But the right-wing echo chamber faithfully repeated the misinformation continually, the real facts be damned. And there were other, more practical, hyper-partisan political reasons to destroy the GAB. Revenge and the unquenchable thirst for absolute control over a state agency that had the independent power to investigate political corruption, trumped the truth. The GAB destruction legislation:

* Gets rid of the six non-partisan judges and replaces them with two six member commissions, one for elections and one for ethics, comprised of partisan political appointments – three Republicans and three Democrats – which all but guarantees tied votes and, therefore, gridlock and inaction.

* Gets rid of Kevin Kennedy. He has overseen elections and campaign finance law in Wisconsin for more than 30 years, capably and in a scrupulously non-partisan manner. He will be replaced by two administrators who will be selected by partisan legislative leaders.

* Most significantly, it eliminates the independent, "sum sufficient" funding for investigations by the GAB into possible political corruption (being perpetrated by legislators, for example). This was the absolute most critical and central component of the creation of the GAB in 2007. Without it, the GAB is under the complete control of the legislative leadership. This independent stream of funding for investigations acted as a huge preventative tool for corruption in the Capitol. Without it, the GAB will be feared by no one and ignored by most. That is by design. The GAB will be transformed into another Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – a toothless, ineffective state agency with no ability to effectively enforce election, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying law. And it will likely be utilized as a tool to aid in the achievement of the partisan political goals of the leaders of the Legislature and the Governor.

These profoundly anti-democratic measures are not the sum total of the majority party’s assault on good government in Wisconsin. Renewed attempts to weaken and even eviscerate our state’s open records laws, as well as to undermine the effectiveness of the respected non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau by adding partisan political appointments in all state agencies, are in the works for early 2016. And there may be more.

Thomas Jefferson
said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And so it is that Wisconsinites must, not only be more vigilant to stave off further erosion of our democratic institutions, but we must also organize, register to vote, turn out and work as never before to take back Wisconsin from those who seek to destroy it.

We will never forget these past several months when democracy and transparency in Wisconsin were brutally assaulted and curtailed. But we will never give in or surrender and will continually strive to restore democracy to the state, which was once the national icon for honest, open, accountable and clean politics and good government in the nation. This battle has already been joined and will not cease until we once again prevail.




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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