From The Capital Times - December 6, 2017

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Unjust and Unwarranted Attack by Fitzgerald and Vos on State Elections and Ethics Administrators



For Release: Tuesday - January 16, 2018

Vote Scheduled for January 23rd on confirmation of Mike Haas and Brian Bell

In what can only be described as a a blatant attempt to exercise raw political muscle and further undermine citizen confidence in the integrity of the administration of Wisconsin's elections, ethics and campaign finance law, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) have "teamed up" to remove the current WI Elections Administrator Mike Haas, and WI Ethics Administrator Brian Bell.

Why are they being attacked?

Apparently the fact that Haas and Bell have the unanimous bipartisan support of the political appointees to each of their Commissions for their competence and impartiality angers Fitzgerald and Vos. They want more partisan, unbalanced conduct of elections, ethics and campaign finance law in their ongoing quest to transform Wisconsin into an utterly one-party state – with the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker in complete control.

Two years ago, Fitzgerald and Vos masterminded the destruction of the effective, nationally-admired, scrupulously non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board that, from 2008 to 2015, served all of the the citizens of Wisconsin in a fair, effective and lawful manner – investigating corruption and crime wherever it was detected and conducting elections and administering ethics laws in a way that Wisconsinites could have confidence in, and respect for. Fitzgerald and Vos also oversaw the "carve out" (for politicians only), of an exemption from the state's 170-year-old "John Doe" investigatory process in order that political corruption could no longer be effectively investigated and prosecuted.

And Fitzgerald and Vos championed the re-write of Wisconsin's campaign finance laws in 2015, once among the best in the nation, so that they are now among the weakest and least transparent. And they legalized the corrupt practice of campaign coordination between candidates and outside, supposedly "independent" special interest groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth during elections. No state in the nation has gone as far to legitimize this type of corrupt collusion as Fitzgerald and Vos have done in Wisconsin.

And now, they are moving to remove Mike Haas and Brian Bell because these two highly competent, fair-minded and impartial civil servants were employed by the now-dissolved Government Accountability Board and are not the hyper-partisan sycophants that Fitzgerald and Vos want in place for the upcoming 2018 election season.

Fitzgerald has scheduled a vote in the Wisconsin State Senate for Tuesday, January 23rd to deny the confirmation of Haas and Bell for their current positions and to remove them.

Wisconsin citizens need to rise up and defeat this insidious partisan power grab and demand that their State Senators vote against Fitzgerald and for the confirmation of Mike Haas and Brian Bell as Administrators of the Wisconsin Elections and Wisconsin Ethics Commissions, respectively.

CC/WI will join other reformers in a press conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, January 17th on this critical matter.

But the time for you to act is now.

To contact your State Senator, go here. If you are not sure who your State Senator is, go here.

Also, contact both Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos and tell them to lay off trying to muscle Mike Haas and Brian Bell out of their jobs.

Read this recent guest opinion editorial from CC/WI and the League of Women Voters of WI about this critical issue.

Read this letter from state good government groups, including CC/WI, to Fitzgerald, Vos and Wisconsin State Senators about this issue.

Read this powerful Wisconsin State Journal editorial against Fitzgerald and Vos's power grab.

Then, when you have taken this action, contact five or ten friends and family members and tell them to do the same! Please share this message widely.

Let's make sure Fitzgerald and Vos know we are mad as hell and we aren't going to "take it" anymore.

Never give in.

On Wisconsin. Forward!




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 4, 2018

Begin the New Year by Making Sure You're Ready to Vote in 2018



For Release: Thursday - January 4, 2018


The next opportunity to vote in Wisconsin is approaching very soon.

Wisconsin's Spring Primary is on February 20, 2018 – followed by the Spring Election on April 3, 2018. In less than two months, we will determine which two candidates will run for the critical State Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring conservative, Justice Michael Gableman.

For more information on the State Supreme Court primary election candidates, go here.

In addition, voters will choose two Court of Appeals judges and Circuit Court judges in counties across the state.

The integrity of our state's judicial system is at stake. Mark your calendar with these two important dates. Now is the time to prepare to vote so you're not scrambling later.

Start by confirming that you're registered to vote at your current address.


Visit the "My Voter Info" page at MyVoteWI.gov, and enter your name and date of birth to check your voter registration status. You need to have lived at your current address for at least 10 days prior to Election Day in order to register to vote in that election district or ward.

If you're not already registered, there are several ways you can register to vote:

Online. Eligible voters in Wisconsin who have a valid Wisconsin driver license or a Wisconsin DMV-issued ID can now register online at MyVote.WI.gov up to 20 days before the election in which they are planning to vote.

By Mail. You can start your voter registration form online at MyVote.WI.gov – then print, sign and mail it to your municipal clerk along with a Proof Of Residence (POR) document. Your form and POR must be received no later than 20 days before the election in which you are planning to vote.

In your Municipal Clerk’s Office.
You can register in-person in your municipal clerk’s office up until the 5pm (or close of business) on the Friday before the election in which you are planning to vote. You'll need to bring a proof of residence document to complete your registration (this document can be shown electronically).

At the Polls on Election Day.
If you're unable to register by any of the methods above, you can still register at your polling place on Election Day. You will need to present a proof of residence document when registering (again, this document can be shown electronically). If your driver’s license or state ID card has your current address, that’s all you need.

Examples of proof of residence documents are here.

Save time and hassle. Register to vote now.


When you vote, you will need to present one of the acceptable forms of photo ID for voting pictured left.


(Click to enlarge image)

For more information about voter photo ID – and how to get a free ID if you don't have an ID acceptable for voting – see our downloadable voter ID fact sheet. Or visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's voter photo ID website: Bring It to the Ballot.

If you do not have an acceptable ID for voting and need help getting one, contact this statewide Voter ID Hotline #: 608/285-2141.

Are you (or do you know) a college student voting in Wisconsin?


Here are "Three Things College Students Need to Do To Vote in Wisconsin"



Make sure you participate in these elections. Remember, every election has consequences.

Updated 4:27 PM, 1-5-2018.





Contact:


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

Sandra Miller
Director of Information Services & Outreach
608/658-2109
smiller@commoncause.org

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...


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Common Cause in Wisconsin: Political Reform Year in Review



Thursday, December 21, 2017



After nearly a year of the most dishonest, destructive and incompetent President of the United States in history – and another year of the most anti-progressive, least ethical, most secretive and anti-democratic Governor and State Legislature in state history – the United States, Wisconsin and CC/WI all still stand!

That is no small achievement in the current political atmosphere and power alignment – both in Washington, D.C. and in Madison, WI. In Wisconsin, we have even advanced the cause of redistricting reform and judicial recusal, and have not lost any further ground in voting rights and campaign finance reform. Yet.

Here is a summary of our work in these areas this year:

Fighting Partisan Gerrymandering

CC/WI has been a leader in the statewide effort to enact a nonpartisan redistricting process for Wisconsin since 2013, when we united legislators, reform organizations and citizens in support of adopting Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting process. We forced the Republican-controlled Assembly to finally hold a public hearing on the issue in 2016 and we have mobilized unanimous support from all the state’s daily newspaper editorial boards.


The Capital Times cartoonist, Mike Konopacki, recently created this cartoon with CC/WI as the subject.

This year, we took the leading role in forcing GOP legislative leaders to cap the amount of taxpayer money they will spend on defending Wisconsin’s unconstitutional 2011 legislative district maps and to disclose the law firms they hired, and we have been all over the state educating Wisconsinites about the pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Gill v. Whitford, which declared Wisconsin’s 2011 maps illegal, and which would, if the nation’s highest court upholds a federal court decision, dramatically curtail hyper-partisan gerrymandering, nationwide. New CC/WI State Chair, former State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville, is a leader in the landmark court case. We have also gathered nearly 4,000 of our target goal of 5,000 signatures in support of redistricting reform legislation – Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44 – which we hope to reach in early 2018. If you have not signed the petition yet, or have but know others who haven’t, please go here and do so!

For more on this issue:

Plain Talk: Full-time state legislators don't have time for us
December 6, 2017 - Dave Zweifel, The Capital Times

VIDEO: Gerrymandering in Wisconsin: The Issues Before the Supreme Court
November 28, 2017 - UW Oshkosh American Democracy Project

VIDEO: Interview with CC/WI Dir. Jay Heck on Gerrymandering & Voter ID in Wisconsin
December 4, 2017 - Senior Beat

Voting Rights

CC/WI continues to counter the suppressing effect of Wisconsin’s extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law (in full effect since 2016) by providing information to eligible citizens about what they need to be able to vote and what documentation they must have to obtain the requisite form of photo ID. We have been the leading resource for college and university students to find out if their student ID is acceptable at polling places and how to get the correct form of ID if it isn’t. CC/WI partners particularly closely with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin to get more citizens the information they need to vote. This is critically important because the voter photo ID law caused Wisconsin to experience a large drop off in voter turnout in 2016 compared to 2012 and Donald Trump carried the state by just about 22,000 votes – in part because of this voter suppression.

For more on this issue:

Study: Black voter participation plummeted in 2016
November 7, 2017 - Bob Hague, Wisconsin Radio Network

Campaign Finance Reform


During the summer, CC/WI participated in a press conference in the Capitol to support a package of campaign finance reform measures, which we pointed out would merely restore to Wisconsin some of the laws we had in place 20 years ago and which have all been destroyed by Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature over the past seven years. Included in the package is a measure advanced by CC/WI that would once again prohibit campaign coordination between candidates and outside special interest groups running phony issue advocacy communications, and one that would require disclosure of the donors to all electioneering communications, not just those that explicitly state “vote for,” or “defeat.”

For more on this issue:

Wisconsin Democrats join good-government groups in push for campaign finance reform
June 8, 2017 - Louis Weisberg, Wisconsin Gazette

Wisconsin Democrats Propose Tougher Campaign Finance Laws
June 7, 2017 - Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

Judicial Recusal

In late July, CC/Wisconsin single-handedly reignited the important issue of recusal for judges in the receipt of campaign contributions or benefiting from special interest “outside” electioneering spending, with the recent opinion-editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper.

The conservative majority (5 of 7) on the Wisconsin Supreme Court last April voted 5 to 2 not to adopt sensible recusal rules for judges at all levels proposed last January by 54 retired state jurists, including two former Supreme Court justices. The majority would not even allow a public hearing on the matter. Wisconsin currently ranks 47th of the 50 states in the strength of its recusal procedures. But the issue is front and center in the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election in April, 2018 to replace retiring ultra-conservative justice Michael Gableman, the state “poster child” for the need for judicial recusal.

CC/WI organized well-attended public hearings and forums on the issue during October in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison, and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices (Janine Geske and Louis Butler), current Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, and other prominent jurists participated. CC/WI must and will continue this critical work in early 2018.

For more on this issue:

Judicial Recusal
October 31, 2017 - Greg Stensland, "Between The Lines," Radio Plus - WFDL, Fond du Lac

VIDEO: Common Cause Wisconsin Town Hall Meeting on Judicial Recusal
October 24, 2017 - WisconsinEye


CC/WI has continued to call out Gov. Scott Walker and the anti-reform, reactionary Wisconsin Legislature on other issues as well and we will never give up pushing for the common sense, effective political reform measures that once made this state a model for the nation.

We will continue to educate Wisconsinites about, and mobilize citizen support for, these reforms until we prevail. We need your end-of-the-year support, as soon and as generous as possible, so that we can carry the fight into 2018 – a critical election year in Wisconsin with a pivotal State Supreme Court contest in April and Gubernatorial, State Legislative, and U.S. Senate and House elections. Please help us now so that we can continue our mutual quest to increase the number of Wisconsinites advocating for change and the achievement of genuine, progressive reform.

"Snail mail" your check or credit card payment (Visa, MC, American Express, Discover) to Common Cause in Wisconsin, P.O. Box 2597, Madison, WI 53701-2597, or you can make a contribution online to CC/WI here.


With best wishes for the Holiday Season and for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Sincerely,


Jay Heck – CC/WI Director


P.S. For the past two decades, CC/WI has been one of Wisconsin’s most respected political reform advocacy organizations. One reason may be our doggedness and persistence. Please read this newspaper editorial from earlier this year that details how CC/WI just won’t give up. Neither can you. Wisconsin’s state motto is “Forward!” Let’s go that way. Help us now!







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, November 21, 2017

Demand Public Hearings in the State Senate and Assembly on Redistricting Reform Legislation Now!



For Release: Tuesday - November 21, 2017

Legislative Leaders Continue to Ignore Public Outcry for Public Hearings
on Fair Voter Maps Legislation


Wisconsin Assemby Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have said recently that the Republican-controlled Legislature is by and large finished with its legislative agenda for the 2017-2018 session. They are expected to adjourn in early to mid-Spring for the year to "concentrate" on stockpiling special interest campaign cash for their re-election campaigns, while continuing to draw full-time salary and benefits. Great gig, if you can get it.

Keep in mind, Wisconsin is by far the smallest state in the nation, population-wise, that has a "full-time" Legislature. For what?

Now, it's possible the Legislature may move to do a few more things during the first three months of 2018. Perhaps they will decide to exempt toddlers who have concealed carry permits from the 21-year-old legal drinking age in Wisconsin. Or, perhaps they will act to outlaw gatherings of two or more Wisconsinites who talk about the rotten state of political discourse as potentially "riotous" behavior. Or, officially change the name of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to "Do Not Resuscitate," thus saving taxpayers nearly $43 because the agency can continue to use its DNR stationery. But we don't need environmental regulations in this state any more!

Having too much time on their hands is a problem for this Legislature.

But there is at least one more thing they really ought to do before they close up shop to beg for campaign cash in 2018.

Fitzgerald and Vos must allow public hearings to be scheduled and conducted on redistricting reform legislation before the Legislature adjourns sine dine in 2018.

That legislation is Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 44 – the exact same legislation that has been introduced for the past four legislative sessions. GOP legislative leaders didn't allow public hearings during 2011-12 or 2013-14. Vos finally did do it in 2015-16, on April 1, 2016 – after the legislative session officially adjourned and only because Common Cause in Wisconsin and The Wisconsin State Journal teamed up to embarrass Assembly Campaign and Elections Committee Chair, State Rep. Kathleen Bernier (R-Lake Halle), into holding one.

But during 2017, when the unconstitutional Wisconsin 2011 gerrymandering lawsuit is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and public interest in this critical issue is extremely high, there has been nothing but "crickets" from Fitzgerald and Vos. In fact, Vos recently went out of his way to criticize Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio for having the audacity to support fair election maps and oppose hyper-partisan gerrymandering. How dare that Kasich side with citizens over political bosses!

Clearly, Robin Vos, Scott Fitzgerald and your state legislators need to hear from you, the citizens of Wisconsin about your support for Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 44 again, and your demand that they schedule a public hearing on the legislation immediately. Public hearing(s) before Christmas would be good...

And, if you haven't done this yet, please sign our online petition in support of the redistricting reform legislation. If you have already signed it, please urge family and friends to do so at your upcoming Thanksgiving gathering! Ending hyper-partisan gerrymandering is a subject everyone can agree on around the holiday table! :-) We have nearly 4,000 individual signees so far and would like to boost that total up to 5,000 by year's end.

Thanks so much for your active support for democracy in Wisconsin, and Happy Thanksgiving to you from all of us at CC/WI!





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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