Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Statement of Common Cause in Wisconsin Co-Chair Bill Kraus on the Killing of Children and Teachers in Connecticut


Press Release
December 18, 2012


 


By Bill Kraus


Who thought that last week’s blog post on how parties lost their mojo and the power to slate and fund legislative campaigns moved, however erratically, to the now much more powerful legislative leaders would be followed by the loss of political power by yet another 800-pound gorilla, the National Rifle Association?

The massacre in Connecticut, the law of unintended consequences, and a widespread cry of “Stop! Enough already!” has combined to put a spotlight on what decades of bullying of legislatures everywhere by the vocal leaders and members of that organization have unintentionally but inevitably led to in this country.

By an odd coincidence, a federal court in Chicago had called the people of Illinois to task for not doing what 49 other states had done by failing to allow concealed carry of handguns. What side of the looking glass are we on here? This seemed to me to complete the circle of guns first, foremost, always, and everywhere.

I have always thought that it was sensible, logical, and civilized to confine the possession of weapons the only purpose of which is to kill people to those who police and defend us.

The paranoids at the NRA thought otherwise, and they have unaccountably won the day almost everywhere almost all the time.

So far.

By another odd coincidence this massive, countrywide reaction to what happened to those children in Connecticut came at a time when the legislatures which must be equally horrified and motivated to do something, anything in response have less and less reason to be fearful of the reprisal of this and all the other single-issue bullies who have been playing such a damaging and prominent role in our less-than-representative democratic system.

A lot of people, institutions, causes and organizations no longer threaten the tenure of most legislators anymore. They have districted themselves into seats that are lifetime sinecures if that’s the career choice they want.

I have been bellyaching about this for a very long time. But not this week.

The gods of good government have been overruled by the law of unintended consequences, and this serendipitous development makes something worthy but heretofore unimaginable quite possible.

It is, of course, clear that rationalizing and regulating the use of the kinds of weapons that have raised havoc across the country recently is going to take a very long time. It took a very long time to banish slavery, to contain smoking, and to rid our lives and communities of a lot of other bad ideas.

It is time. It is past time. Do it.

Bill Kraus has been co-chair of the Common Cause in Wisconsin State Governing Board since 1995.

Follow Bill Kraus on:

twitter / wmkraus


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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scott Fitzgerald Launches Assault on Government Accountability Board


Press Release
December 4, 2012




CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



Incoming Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald Launches
Nonsensical Attack on the Non-Partisan Government Accountability Board


The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore, vindictive winner.

Don't these people have anything better to do? Like creating the promised 250,000 jobs and improving Wisconsin's economy?

Apparently not.

Yesterday, State Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who will again become the State Senate Majority Leader in January, inexplicably launched a vicious attack on the under-funded and under-staffed Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.). Why? Because he disagreed with some of their rulings and said the non-partisan board, composed of six retired judges (two of whom were at one time Republican legislators and two others who were appointed to the board by Republican Governor Scott Walker), delegated too much authority to the professional staff whom he said issued opinions in favor of Democrats.

What opinions? Name them. Was it the G.A.B. opinion that gave the go ahead for Republicans to run "fake" Democrats in primary elections for the State Senate both in 2011 and 2012? We Doubt it. Kevin Kennedy, the Executive Director of G.A.B. has been angering Democrats and Republicans alike since he was formerly the executive director of the State Elections Board in the late 1970's when Scott Fitzgerald was still a student at Hustisford High School.

The G.A.B. has done a good job of upsetting both political parties and angering Democratic Senate Majority Leaders as well. Just three years ago in 2009, then-State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) tried to weaken the G.A.B because he resented its power to independently investigate possible criminal misconduct of legislators.

The G.A.B also angered the ultra-left partisan, labor funded, pro-Democratic attack organization One Wisconsin Now, when G.A.B. correctly and lawfully promulgated an administrative rule in 2010 requiring disclosure of all campaign communications advocating for the election or defeat of candidates for public office.

That's the whole point. The G.A.B is not supposed to please Republicans or Democrats. It is supposed to be non-partisan and independent. It was the brainchild of Republican State Senator Mike Ellis of Neenah, working closely with Common Cause in Wisconsin, and then, with other legislators of both political parties in reaction to the infamous Legislative Caucus Scandal ten years ago which criminally charged and toppled from power the top legislative leadership of both political parties: State Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala (D-Madison), Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield), State Senate Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee Brian Burke (D-Milwaukee), Assembly Majority Leader Steve Foti (R-Oconomowoc) and Republican Assistant Majority Leader Bonnie Ladwig (R-Mount Pleasant). Chvala, Burke, and Foti served jail time. Ladwig served home confinement with an electronic monitoring device. Jensen was convicted of felony misconduct in office and would have served jail time, but his conviction was thrown out on a technicality. His new trial was later moved to the friendly confines of Waukesha County where Jensen was granted a plea deal that barred him from ever running for public office again.

Senator Ellis was also critical of the Fitzgerald announcement yesterday.

The State Elections Board -- which the G.A.B. replaced -- was totally discredited and disgraced and held in contempt because it was composed of partisan appointments from the legislative leadership (and from the Governor and the Chairs of the Republican and Democratic Parties of Wisconsin) which cast a blind eye to the corruption taking place under the Capitol dome by the legislative leaders at the time -- and which brought to Wisconsin its most serious political scandal in its 164-year-history.

And Scott Fitzgerald is proposing that we scrap the non-partisan former judges and return to partisan appointments.This is madness!

Scott Fitzgerald not only voted to establish the non-partisan Government Accountability Board both in 2006 and 2007, he even spoke out in favor of it. But now, because there was a decision or two that didn't favor his party, he wants to undermine and eviscerate it.

Every Wisconsin citizen who cares about fairness and a state government agency independent of partisan legislative leadership control that was established for just that purpose -- should do three things: First, contact/call your own State Senator and State Representative and demand that they oppose any attempt to add partisan political appointments to the Government Accountability Board. Second, contact/call State Senator Scott Fitzgerald and tell him the same thing and to lay off!

You might also tell him to work instead on creating jobs and improving the economy and stop trying to grab more partisan political power.

Please let us know what Fitzgerald said to you if you contact him. Thanks.


__________________________________________


Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

608/256-2686

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

In the News - December 2012



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Monday, November 26, 2012

Redistricting Reform Emerging as Top Priority Political Reform for 2013


Press Release
November 26, 2012




CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



REDISTRICTING REFORM LEADS LIST OF POLITICAL REFORMS IN 2013


It won't happen again until 2021. But reform of the redistricting process needs to begin early in 2013 for it to be in place the next time state legislative and congressional districts are redrawn -- as they must be every ten years to reflect the population changes that emanate from the Census. The redistricting process in 2011 was one of the most partisan, secretive and expensive (to Wisconsin taxpayers) of any in Wisconsin's history. It produced fewer competitive state legislative and congressional districts than Wisconsin had prior to 2011 -- which were not all that many to begin with.

An analysis by Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) of the election results this past November 6th reveals that only one of the16 Wisconsin State Senate seats up for grabs was even remotely competitive. CC/WI defines "competitive" as an election in which the winning percentage of the vote was no larger than 55 and the losing percentage no less than 45. Only the 18th State Senate District met that criteria, in which Republican challenger Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac narrowly edged out incumbent Democratic State Senator Jessica King of Oshkosh by less than 600 votes. No other State Senate election was even remotely close. Republicans seized control of the State Senate 18 to 15 seats.

In the State Assembly, CC/WI found that only 14 of the 99 Assembly elections in 2012 fell into the "competitive" category, with Republicans winning 11 of those contests and Democrats, three. Republicans now hold 60 seats and Democrats, 39. Only one incumbent Member of the Assembly (and who was not forced to run against another incumbent) lost -- Republican Roger Rivard of Rice Lake. Obviously, the 2011 redistricting process left little choice for most Wisconsinites when it came to choosing state legislators. Most districts were utterly uncompetitive.

There were no incumbent losses among Wisconsin's eight Members of Congress and no remotely close elections. Every congressional district can now be considered uncompetitive and "safe" for the incumbents. No real choices for Wisconsin voters. As recently as 1998, there were five competitive congressional districts. Today there are none. Members of Congress and of the Wisconsin Legislature choose their voters. Voters now have virtually no say as to who represents them in Madison and in Washington, D.C.

But there is support building both in the Wisconsin Legislature and by citizens to reform this disgraceful state of affairs. During the 2011-2012 legislative session, CC/WI led the effort for redistricting reform and was the only state reform organization to have political reform legislation actually written and introduced -- including a measure to reform the redistricting process. We will be doing so again in early 2013.

Yesterday, the state's largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, issued this strong editorial in support of redistricting reform. Read it, please. Earlier, the state's second largest newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal, issued this strong editorial in support of redistricting reform.

And at the November 13th CC/WI State Governing Board meeting in Madison, State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) explained why redistricting reform is so badly needed and how he plans to work with State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) as well as with CC/WI to advance this reform in the months ahead. You can listen to and view his comments to the board and answers to our questions here.

We need your help, too.

Please contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and tell them that Redistricting Reform is a priority for you in 2013. And hold them to it. Here is how to contact your legislators. If you are not sure who your State Senator and/or State Representative is, go here.

At the November 13th meeting, CC/WI also voted to move forward with a number of other political reforms in addition to redistricting reform. Our reform priorities in 2013 include: disclosure of outside special interest electioneering contributions and spending; prohibiting all campaign fund raising by legislators and legislative committees while the state budget is under consideration; eliminating legislative leadership campaign committees to get corrupting campaign cash completely out of the State Capitol; pushing Wisconsin to support amending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the disastrous 2010 Citizens United vs. F.E.C. decision and to stipulate that money does not equal speech and that corporations are not persons; drastic revision of the unconstitutional and far-too extreme and restrictive Wisconsin photo voter ID law; and finally, an examination of State Supreme Court elections and judicial selection in general.

Details of these CC/WI reform initiatives will be forthcoming in the weeks and month ahead prior to 2013.

Stay tuned.

__________________________________________


Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

608/256-2686

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't Know Where to Vote? Experiencing Harassment or Intimidation? Any Other Voting Questions? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE


Press Release
November 5, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



TOLL FREE PHONE NUMBER TO ANSWER ALL YOUR VOTING QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS AND TO OFFER VOTER PROTECTION 1-866-OUR-VOTE
 
Tuesday is Election Day. It's the one day we are all equal. We can stand up and have our say. If you haven't voted already, here are a few important tips:
  •  Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the Election Protection Hotline, to verify your registration status, locate your precinct, learn what ID you may need at the polls, and get answers to other election-related questions. The toll-free line is staffed Monday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. CST, and 5 a.m. CST until the polls close nationwide on Election Day. You can also email the hotline at info@866ourvote.org.
  •  Have a smartphone? Text OURVOTE to 90975 to download the free Election Protection Smartphone app. It can help you find your polling place, verify your registration status, and access other voter education materials. 
  • If you encounter long lines or your right to vote is questioned at the polls, or if you see other voters having difficulty, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE immediately. We have folks ready and willing to help. 
  • Share this message with your family and friends. We want everyone to know and to exercise their rights.
When we vote we are all equal. Stand up and have your say. Vote.  __________________________________________

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

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Biography of Jay Heck, Executive Director of Common Cause in Wisconsin





Jay Heck

Jay became the executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) in 1996. CC/WI is Wisconsin’s largest non-partisan citizens reform advocacy organization with more than 2,500 members. It is considered by Wisconsin’s major newspaper editorial boards and by pro-reform legislators of both major political parties to be Wisconsin’s most effective and influential state reform organization.

Heck and CC/WI led the statewide effort to create one of the first and the most effective on-line lobbyist reporting systems in the nation in 1998; helped to uncovered and played the lead role in highlighting illegal campaign fundraising in the State Capitol that led to the criminal charging and removal from office of five top legislative leaders of both political parties in 2001-2002; led the effort to eliminate the partisan political legislative caucus staffs involved in illegal campaign activities, saving taxpayers more than $4 million per year in 2001; led the legislative effort for the creation of a mandatory “paper trail” for all voting machines utilized in Wisconsin elections in 2006; helped devise and led in passing legislation to establish Wisconsin’s independent, non-partisan Government Accountability Board to oversee state elections, lobbying regulation and ethics in 2007; led the effort to enact into law the Impartial Justice Law which established full public financing for candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court who limited their spending to $400,000; helped devise and has led the legislative effort to pass a measure to require the disclosure of the donors to outside interest groups spending money to influence the outcome of elections; and has led in the establishing of the Iowa model as the leading redistricting reform measure in Wisconsin and united legislators and organizations behind it.

Heck moved to Wisconsin in 1988 from Washington, DC to serve as a top assistant to the Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Strohl and was the Associate Director of the State Senate Majority Democratic Caucus. He had previously spent seven years as Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Peter H. Kostmayer (D-PA). In 1980, Heck served on the national campaign staff of Independent U.S. Presidential candidate, Congressman John B.Anderson (R-IL). He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and graduated with honors from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with degrees in political science and history.

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Sandra Miller - Director of Information Services and Outreach



Sandra Miller joined CC/WI as Director of Information Services and Outreach in February, 2009.

Prior to working for CC/WI, Sandra served as an independent health advocate and blogger, helping form a large online community that provides information and support to families with diabetic children.

Sandra also worked as a childbirth educator at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago after having spent the first 12 years of her career in the for-profit sector as a Training Consultant for an IT network consulting firm, and the Operations VP for a Boston-area marketing agency.

She is a native of Quincy, Massachusetts and attended Northeastern University in Boston and DePaul University in Chicago, graduating summa cum laude in 1992 with a B.A. in English.

Sandra resides in Madison with her husband and two children.

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In the News - November 2012



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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1-866-OUR-VOTE (Election Protection)/Big Open Records Win for CMD and Common Cause/More


Reform Update
October 31, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

Happy Halloween!
  

  1. Statewide Toll Free Number for Election Information/Protection
  2. Five Wisconsin Legislators Must Surrender All ALEC-Related E-Mails for Public Inspection
  3. Reform Forums in Green Bay and La Crosse Bring Many Citizens Together With Legislators and Activists


1. As many as three million Wisconsinites or more are expected to vote next Tuesday -- November 6th -- in the historic election for President, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and for the Wisconsin Legislature. Passions and emotions about these elections may run high and so too may the temptation for some to harass, intimidate, or try to discourage some voters from participating in this most basic and sacred act of citizenship. Fortunately, there is a place voters can turn if they have any questions about voting or if they encounter any problems at the polls. Common Cause in Wisconsin is partnering with the nation’s largest nonpartisan Voter Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and we are here to help. Election Protection wants to ensure that voters are equipped with the information needed when they head to the polls, and we expect continued confusion over whether or not Wisconsin voters will be required to present government-issue photo identification. Although the requirement was signed into law last year, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ordered a permanent injunction on the law on March 6, 2012 which halted implementation of the ID requirement. Wisconsin voters WILL NOT be required to present photo ID in order to vote a regular ballot. If you arrive at the polls and are asked to show photo ID, you can call call1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Election Protection’s highly-trained legal volunteers are available to assist voters with any questions or problems, no matter how simple or complex. Voters may call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll-free with any questions or issues that may arise. This English language hotline is available now and will be staffed live from 9AM– 8PM CST on Election Day. Spanish-speaking voters may seek assistance through the 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) hotline.



2.
Yesterday, five Wisconsin state legislators agreed to turn over any and all correspondence and documents related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and held on their personal email accounts. The action settles a lawsuit brought by the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause, and is a significant victory for the citizens of Wisconsin and their ability to inspect all public records, including the personal e-mail of legislators and staff with respect to public policy. The Wisconsin Attorney General’s office will conduct the agreed-upon document search. For more on this huge victory for transparency, go here.



3. On October 15th in Green Bay and then again, on October 22nd in La Crosse -- citizens, legislators, and reform activists (and opponents) gathered to learn about, discuss, debate and attempt to come to some consensus over what steps should be taken to clean up Wisconsin politics and bring back "good government" to our state, which was once the national model for honest, clean and accountable state government. No longer. But through the more than 30 "Reform Forums" Common Cause in Wisconsin has organized all over the state during the past several years, more and more Wisconsinites are demonstrating concern and then demanding real achieveable political reform of the corrupt status quo.
In Green Bay, more than 125 citizens gathered to interact with panelists State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), UW-Green Bay Professor Mike Kraft, CC/WI Board Member and Door County Broadcaster Roger Utnehmer and CC/WI Director Jay Heck. State Senator Rob Cowles and State Representatives Chad Weininger (R-Green Bay), John Klenke (R-Green Bay) and Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) were all invited to be panelists but declined.

In La Crosse a week later, citizens and UW-La Crosse students interacted with panelists State Representatives Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska, CC/WI Board Member and former Republican Sate Representative David Martin and Jay Heck. State Senator Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse), former State Senator Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), and State Representative Lee Nerison (R-Westby) were all invited to be panelists but declined.

At both forums, a consensus developed about two effective political reforms, both with bipartisan support, that could be introduced, passed and signed into law in relatively short order in early 2013: redistricting reform and the disclosure of the donors of the many outside spending groups who are spending millions of dollars of special interest money for mainly negative TV and radio ads and who have managed to escape having to tell Wisconsin voters who provides the money for these obnoxious communications. Last year CC/WI took the major role in developing legislation that would reform the current partisan secretive redistricting process and in forcing disclosure of outside election-oriented communications. Both measures had bipartisan support and CC/WI was the only reform organization to actually develop and have introduced into the Wisconsin Legislature, political reform measures. 

Both are ready for introduction and action in early 2013. For a news account of the Green Bay forum, go here.



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!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

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Monday, October 22, 2012

La Crosse Reform Forum Tonight/Tammy and Tommy - Record U.S. Senate Spending/More


Reform Update
October 22, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


  1. Reform Forum This Evening at UW-La Crosse Follows Big Gathering at UW-Green Bay Last Week
  2. Costly and Critical: The Pivotal Contest for a Wisconsin U.S. Senate Seat Between Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson
  3. Wisconsin Congressional Candidate Cash on the Rise, Too


1. This evening, prior to the beginning of the last debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, CC/WI will hold another "Reform Forum" at UW-La Crosse. Reform advocates and legislators will discuss what needs to be done to begin to clean up Wisconsin politics and make it worthy of our past reputation as the nation's "laboratory for democracy." For all the details, go here.

Last week, at Green Bay's reform forum, more than 125 citizens and students took part in another very lively discussion and exchange that went into "overtime" because of continuing audience interest. You can view televised coverage of the UWGB event here.

Over the last year, similar forums have been held in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Oshkosh and Wausau.



2.
This year's election to fill the seat of retiring U.S. Democratic Senator Herb Kohl is one of the most expensive in the nation and one of the most critical in determining which political party will control the United States Senate. Ruth Coniff's cover story in the November issue of The Progressive magazine explores the race between Democratic U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin and former Wisconsin Republican Governor Tommy Thompson and features extensive commentary from CC/WI on what the race means and how much it is costing.



3. Likewise, there is an increasing amount of campaign cash being raised and spent in some of Wisconsin's elections for the U.S. House of Representatives this year. CC/WI estimates that the race in the 7th Congressional District between one-term incumbent, Sean Duffy, and his Democratic challenger, former State Senator Pat Kreitlow, will be the most costly in Wisconsin's history for a U.S. House seat. One of Wisconsin's top political writers and investigative reporters, Bill Lueders, looks at the money in Wisconsin Congressional elections here and here with commentary from CC/WI.



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!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Campaign Finance, Disclosure, Redistricting & Other Political Reform Issues at UW-La Crosse on Monday - October 22nd


Press Release
October 17, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



PUBLIC FORUM AT UW-LA CROSSE
TO FOCUS ON CRITICAL CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION REFORM ISSUES

Monday Evening, October 22nd


6:00 - 7:30 PM

University of Wisconsin at La Crosse
Student Union - Port 'O Call Room
1725 State Street, La Crosse, WI

Before watching the third and final presidential debate next Monday night, join us for a 90-minute discussion about vital campaign and election reforms needed right here in Wisconsin. Common Cause in Wisconsin held a similar forum this past Monday night at UW-Green Bay where a large turnout of over 120 students, area citizens, members of local advocacy groups and the press engaged in a passionate, yet civil discussion of these important issues. (For more on this event, go here.)

Why is it so important that we talk about campaign finance, voter photo ID, redistricting and disclosure of money in politics right now?

Because we are in the midst of the most expensive: 1) U.S. Presidential; 2) U.S. Senate; 3) Congressional; and 4) State Legislative Elections in the history of the United States and in Wisconsin. These contests, to be decided on the 6th of November, follow the most expensive (Wisconsin) recall elections in the history of the nation earlier this year and last year. All of these elections are also among the most secretive in history – with millions of dollars of special interest money being spent to influence voters without the voters having the slightest idea who was providing the huge sums of campaign cash.

Over the last two years, Wisconsin – a state once known as the “laboratory of democracy” – has undergone tumultuous change in the way it conducts elections and considers public policy. As a result, the core political fabric of Wisconsin – once heralded as a national model – has been dramatically transformed.

Are these changes detrimental to our state’s political process or were they needed and will they improve it?

Tens of millions of dollars are being spent by outside interest groups on advertising leading up to this year's general election. But the citizens of Wisconsin are still in the dark about who is really behind much of this avalanche of “outside” campaign spending and the constant barrage of interest group “phony issue ads” we're seeing during this election season.

Is this lack of disclosure a protection of "free speech" or is it a perversion of democracy? Do citizens have the right to know who is paying for these ads?

In 2011, Wisconsin experienced the most secretive, partisan redistricting process the state has ever seen – resulting in dramatically less competitive voting districts. Should redistricting be taken out of the hands of partisan legislators and put into the hands of a non-partisan entity to draw congressional and legislative voting districts?


And what about Wisconsin’s photo voter ID law – the most extreme and restrictive such measure enacted into law in the nation? It has been blocked by the courts and is not in effect for the upcoming November election. Is it needed? Is there really voter fraud or is this a voter suppression measure?

Prior to 2011, public financing of statewide and legislative elections helped ensure that our legislators and our state’s highest court were beholden to the public rather than private interests with deep pockets. Yet last year, Governor Walker opted to gut the state’s public financing system, while at the same time, increasing the limit on individual campaign contributions to Supreme Court candidates from $1,000 to $10,000!

With so much outside money flowing into Wisconsin's Supreme Court races, should we continue to elect or consider appointing our State Supreme Court Justices?

And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups (and their "Super PACs") to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to flood our airwaves with negative messages, giving them far greater influence on the outcome of elections. How has the Citizens United decision affected Wisconsin and does it matter?

These vital reform issues will be the focus of discussion in La Crosse this coming Monday evening during one in a series of "reform forums" held across the state by Common Cause in Wisconsin:

"What Ever Happened to Good Government
in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"
Panelists will include:

State Representative Jill Billings (D-La Crosse)
State Representative Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska)
Former Republican State Representative & Former Candidate for Lt. Governor David Martin
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin

Professor Jeremy Arney of UW-La Crosse will serve as Moderator.

Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively discussion.

Full details can be found here.
__________________________________________

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

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Critical Political Reform Issues to be Explored at October 15th Green Bay Forum


Press Release
October 10, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686



PUBLIC FORUM AT UW-GREEN BAY
TO FOCUS ON CRITICAL CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION REFORM ISSUES

Monday Evening, October 15th


6:30 - 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
University Union - Christie Theater
2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI

“Welcome” to the most expensive: 1) U.S. Presidential; 2) U.S. Senate; 3) Congressional; and 4) State Legislative Elections in the history of the United States and in Wisconsin. These contests, to be decided on the 6th of November, follow the most expensive (Wisconsin) recall elections in the history of the nation earlier this year and last year. All of these elections are also among the most secretive in history – with millions of dollars of special interest money being spent to influence voters without the voters having the slightest idea who was providing the huge sums of campaign cash.

Over the last two years, Wisconsin – a state once known as the “laboratory of democracy” – has undergone tumultuous change in the way it conducts elections and considers public policy. As a result, the core political fabric of Wisconsin – once heralded as a national model – has been dramatically transformed.

Are these changes detrimental to our state’s political process or were they needed and will they improve it?

Tens of millions of dollars are being spent by outside interest groups on advertising leading up to this year's general election. But the citizens of Wisconsin are still in the dark about who is really behind much of this avalanche of “outside” campaign spending and the constant barrage of interest group “phony issue ads” we're seeing during this election season.

Is this lack of disclosure a protection of "free speech" or is it a perversion of democracy? Do citizens have the right to know who is paying for these ads?

In 2011, Wisconsin experienced the most secretive, partisan redistricting process the state has ever seen – resulting in dramatically less competitive voting districts. Should redistricting be taken out of the hands of partisan legislators and put into the hands of a non-partisan entity to draw congressional and legislative voting districts?


And what about Wisconsin’s photo voter ID law – the most extreme and restrictive such measure enacted into law in the nation? It has been blocked by the courts and is not in effect for the upcoming November election. Is it needed? Is there really voter fraud or is this a voter suppression measure?

Prior to 2011, public financing of statewide and legislative elections helped ensure that our legislators and our state’s highest court were beholden to the public rather than private interests with deep pockets. Yet last year, Governor Walker opted to gut the state’s public financing system, while at the same time, increasing the limit on individual campaign contributions to Supreme Court candidates from $1,000 to $10,000!

With so much outside money flowing into Wisconsin's Supreme Court races, should we continue to elect or consider appointing our State Supreme Court Justices?

And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups (and their "Super PACs") to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to flood our airwaves with negative messages, giving them far greater influence on the outcome of elections. How has the Citizens United decision affected Wisconsin and does it matter?

These vital reform issues will be the focus of discussion in Green Bay this coming Monday evening during one in a series of "reform forums" held across the state by Common Cause in Wisconsin:

"What Ever Happened to Good Government
in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"
Panelists will include:

State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay)
State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna)
Political Science Professor Mike Kraft of UW-Green Bay
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin

Professor Dave Helpap of UW-Green Bay will serve as Moderator.

Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively discussion.

Full details can be found here.
__________________________________________

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

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October Reform Forums in Green Bay and La Crosse/Wisconsin Legislators Sued for Open Records Law Violations


Reform Update
October 2, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


  1. October Reform Forums on Campaign Finance Reform, Disclosure, Redistricting Reform, Photo Voter ID Law and other Political Reform Issues Scheduled for Green Bay and La Crosse
  2. Common Cause Joins in Lawsuit against Five Wisconsin Legislators for Violations of State's Open Records Law


1. This seemingly endless, demoralizing election season is now entering its final weeks, and none too soon. Most citizens have been disgusted by the most bitterly negative, expensive and least transparent election in national and state history. And nobody, aside from a few political consultants and a handful of masochistic political junkies who revel in all the mudslinging and character assassination, ever wants to experience the likes of an election season (which has lasted almost two full years in Wisconsin) ever again. So that begs the question: What ever happened to good government (and civil politics) in Wisconsin and how do we fix it?

That's where you -- the citizens of Wisconsin -- come in.

On Monday evening, October 15th, CC/WI has organized another in our long series of "reform forums" in Green Bay and then another, on October 22nd in La Crosse. At these forums we have a panel of speakers from both major political parties (and sometimes from "third" parties and independents) who offer their opinions about timely political reform issues (like campaign finance reform, redistricting reform, disclosure and photo voter identification) and then we open it up to you -- the audience -- to ask questions and suggest solutions.

For details on the October 15th reform forum in Green Bay, go here.

For details on the October 22nd reform forum in La Crosse, go here.
In the past year we have held similar forums, with audiences as large as 200 in Wausau, Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Milwaukee. If you can, please join us in Green Bay or La Crosse and be heard!



2.
Yesterday, national Common Cause joined The Center for Media and Democracy in filing a lawsuit against five Wisconsin legislators for violations of our state's Open Records laws with regard to inquiries about the legislators' involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The joint release from CMD and national Common Cause is here. Click to download the actual filed lawsuit and exhibits.

For news accounts about this action, go here and here.




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!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

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Monday, October 1, 2012

CC/WI Public Forum at UW La Crosse on Monday October 22nd





                              The Citizens United Decision
                 Disclosure of Money in Politics 
                              Redistricting
                     Voter Photo ID
                          Public Financing of Elections



"What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"

Monday, October 22, 2012
6:00 – 7:30 PM

University of Wisconsin at La Crosse - Student Union (Port 'O Call Room)
1725 State Street

La Crosse, Wisconsin 

 ** Event is Free... and so are the cookies! **

Panelists: State Representative Jill Billings (D-La Crosse),
State Representative Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska),
Former Republican State Representative David Martin,
and CC/WI Executive Director Jay Heck.

ModeratorJeremy Arney - Political Science Professor at UW-La Crosse

Please come join in the discussion and learn more about:
  • How is the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs F.E.C affecting Wisconsin?
  • Disclosure of interest-group “phony issue ads” and other “outside” spending – is this necessary or would it stifle “free speech”?
  • Redistricting reform in Wisconsin – how do we do it?
  • Will the new Voter Photo ID suppress voter fraud or voters?
  • Is Public Financing of our state elections needed?
  • Should we elect or appoint Wisconsin's Supreme Court Justices?
Presented by Common Cause in Wisconsin   
(Underwritten by The Joyce Foundation)

Co-Sponsored by:
                        

              

              



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In the News - October 2012





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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CC/WI Public Forum at UW Green Bay on Monday October 15th





                              The Citizens United Decision
                 Disclosure of Money in Politics 
                              Redistricting
                     Voter Photo ID
                          Public Financing of Elections



"What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"

Monday, October 15, 2012
6:30 – 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin at Green Bay - University Union (Christie Theater)
2420 Nicolet Drive

Green Bay, Wisconsin 

 ** Event is Free... and so are the cookies! **

Panelists: State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay),
Roger Utnehmer of the Door County Daily News,
Political Science Professor Mike Kraft of UW-Green Bay,
and CC/WI Executive Director Jay Heck.

ModeratorDave Helpap - Political Science Professor at UW-Green Bay

Please come join in the discussion and learn more about:
  • How is the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs F.E.C affecting Wisconsin?
  • Disclosure of interest-group “phony issue ads” and other “outside” spending – is this necessary or would it stifle “free speech”?
  • Redistricting reform in Wisconsin – how do we do it?
  • Will the new Voter Photo ID suppress voter fraud or voters?
  • Is Public Financing of our state elections needed?
  • Should we elect or appoint Wisconsin's Supreme Court Justices?
Presented by Common Cause in Wisconsin   
(Underwritten by The Joyce Foundation)

Co-Sponsored by:
                        

              

              



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Saturday, September 1, 2012

In the News - September 2012





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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In the News - August 2012



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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wisconsin Primary Election in August Will Decide Most Legislative Races


Reform Update
July 26, 2012


CONTACT:
Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


  1. Why Redistricting Reform Matters So Much
  2. Bipartisan Political Reform Proposals Garner Support and Attention
  3. Bipartisanship and State Senator Tim Cullen
  4. Wisconsin's Voting Machine Procedures Among Best in the Nation


1. Wisconsin's Fall Primary Election was moved up a month last year and will occur on Tuesday, August 14th -- smack in the middle of prime Summer vacation time. Turnout is expected to be historically lighter than ever before. But the primaries loom large, especially this year, after the most partisan, secretive redistricting process in Wisconsin's history occurred last year resulting in fewer truly competitive state legislative and congressional general election districts than ever before. As recently as 1998, there were four or five competitive congressional districts in Wisconsin. Now, there is arguably only one -- the Eighth Congressional District in the Fox River Valley. But even that district is now less competitive than it was before the 2011 redistricting law was signed into law.

What this means is that in many districts, the "real" election will occur in the upcoming primary elections on August 14th. Common Cause in Wisconsin Co-Chair Bill Kraus looks at this problem and why it needs to be reformed here.



2.
Last month, CC/WI called on the Governor and the Legislature to get together this Summer and enact a package of bipartisan political reforms. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured our reforms in a guest editorial that appeared in their Sunday Cross Roads section; it also appeared in The Capital Times. These reforms were also the subject of an hour-long program on Wisconsin Public Radio, and CC/WI Director Jay Heck addressed about 200 people on July 10th at the Milwaukee Rotary Club and received very positive feedback. The vast majority of the citizens of Wisconsin want bipartisan solutions to this state's problems and they "get" the need for elected officials of both major political parties to work together for the greater good instead of for their own narrow partisan interests. In fact, the only folks who do not like our proposed reforms are the partisans on the far right and left who thrive in the current atmosphere of nasty divisiveness and bitter recrimination. The last thing they want is bipartisan cooperation on anything.

Reform of the recall election process, the redistricting process and a strong election disclosure law is not likely to happen this Summer or anytime this year, as we had hoped. There is too much dysfunction in state government right now. But political reform will come and it must be bipartisan in order to occur and to last. Many of Wisconsin's citizens are beginning to demand it. Join them!



3. State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) is one of Wisconsin's greatest proponents of bipartisanship. That, clearly, is one reason why he has faced great difficulty lately in the current hyper-partisan political atmosphere in the Capitol. Cullen has tried to find "common cause" with Republican State Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center on some issues, including political reform. They are the co-authors of a measure to reform the redistricting process, which we strongly support. And both support campaign finance reform. Both have been viciously attacked by some extreme partisans from within their own parties for daring to stray from the strict party line and trying to reach across the partisan divide.

We are proud to call Tim Cullen one of our own. From late 2008 until early 2010, when he resigned to run for the State Senate, Tim was an effective and valued member of the State Governing Board of CC/WI. With vast experience in state and local government and in the private sector, Tim Cullen is easily one of the most intelligent and thoughtful members of the Wisconsin Legislature. And one of the most courageous. And he is one of the very few "adults" in public service today. No matter how this current political drama plays out, we wish him the very best. And we stand with him.



4. Wisconsin is doing something right in the election arena, at least compared to other states. We rank among the top five best states in the nation when it comes to election ballot procedures such as requiring the use of paper ballots and a verifiable paper ballot "trail" to be used in conjunction with the optical scanners that most polling places in Wisconsin utilize.

National Common Cause undertook the examination of election measures in all 50 states in conjunction with two other organizations. The press release about Wisconsin is here. On the release are links to the entire study, including details about Wisconsin and other states.

CC/WI led the statewide legislative effort to pass and enact into law the measure requiring that every voting machine in Wisconsin provide a verified paper ballot in order to ensure that every vote is counted accurately and to avoid the controversy that has occurred in other states over verifying certain votes cast. The bipartisan (there is that word again!) measure was passed in the Legislature in late 2005 and signed into law in early 2006.



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!
Holding Power Accountable Since 1972

Read More...