Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Governor Walker, Veto These Bills

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Wednesday - March 26, 2014

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

1. Enhanced Lobbyist Contribution Measure and Early Voting Restrictions Ought to be Vetoed by the Governor This Week
2. Attempts by Far Right Wing, Out-of-State Special Interest Group to Quash Second Jon Doe Investigation is Manufactured Outrage
3. Koch Brothers/Americans for Prosperity Out-of-State Money Seeks to Influence School Board Elections in Kenosha

1. Last Thursday's all night session – the last, mercifully, of the Wisconsin State Assembly – produced a number of very bad measures that passed along partisan lines and were sent to Governor Scott Walker after having earlier cleared the State Senate. The two that are particularly onerous would, when taken together, make it easier for lobbyists to make campaign contributions to legislators and candidates earlier, while making it much more difficult for all Wisconsinites to be able to cast early ballots before election day. Both measures appeared out of nowhere in early March and were fast-tracked through the Legislature.

Both ought to be vetoed by the Governor without hesitation.

The first – Senate Bill 655 – would eliminate the current date of June 1st in an election year when lobbyists can first make a campaign contribution to a candidate up for election that year. The June 1st date has been in place for decades. SB 655 allows lobbyists to make a campaign contribution as early as April 15th of an election year. No one but lobbyists and greedy candidates called for or desired this change in the law – which is of no benefit to a single non-lobbyist or non-candidate for state office. CC/WI testified against this measure both before the State Senate and the State Assembly Committees on Elections – and made the case against it here, here, here and here.

The other horrific measure – Senate Bill 324 – further restricts in-person-absentee voting by eliminating all weekend voting before the election and capping the number of hours a week any county, regardless of its population, can offer early voting. Thousands of citizens would likely be unable to cast their votes because they would not be able to get to the polls on election day and would only be able to vote on weekends because of work, family or for many other reasons. That's democracy?

To paraphrase the late President Ronald Reagan, this Governor's inspiration and hero, "Governor Walker, Veto These Bills."

Governor Walker now and urge him to veto both SB 655 and SB 324 – in the name of sanity and fairness for all of the citizens of Wisconsin. Lobbyists, legislators and those interested in suppressing the vote ought not to prevail now – or ever.

2. In 2012, a secret "John Doe" investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney into wrongdoing by employees of then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker – when he was running for Governor in 2010 – resulted in criminal convictions of five Walker employees and one campaign donor. In 2012, a second John Doe investigation was launched looking into possible illegal coordination between Walker's campaign in the 2012 recall election with outside special interest groups supporting Walker. These outside groups have moved aggressively to try to discredit the Milwaukee County D.A., as well as to allege that Walker political opponents have engaged in possible illegal coordination themselves. This very thorough analysis of the bogus charges and false attacks being made by the Walker allies is revealing in how it shows what lengths the far right will go to assert its power. Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy has written a number of in-depth pieces on this developing story and includes commentary from CC/WI.

3. The infamous Koch Brothers of New York have long been involved in American politics and, in recent years, very prominently in Wisconsin politics. The infamous "fake Koch" call that Governor Walker took during the turmoil of 2011 – as well as the millions of dollars spent by the Kochs and their proxy outside special interest groups such as "Americans for Prosperity" for Walker and for Republican legislative candidates in 2010, 2011, 2012 – have currently become the "norm" in Wisconsin. Last week it was revealed that AFP was trying to influence the outcome of local elections for county supervisor in Iron County. And this week, the Kenosha News reported that AFP is spending money in Kenosha in an attempt to influence the outcome of school board elections. The Kochs are literally trying to have it all in Wisconsin – at every level of government. CC/WI comments in the article.

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

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