Monday, March 3, 2014

The Invasion of the Super PACs/More

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Tuesday - March 4, 2014

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

1. Bill Kraus: The Invasion of the Super PACs
2. Video of February "Reform Forum" with Senators Schultz and Risser Posted Online
3. Redistricting Reform Event in Madison on Wednesday Evening
4. Wisconsin's Restrictive Voter Photo ID Law is Criticized by Conservative Justices

1. The unprecedented flood of money – most of it from special interest groups who want something for it, and much of it undisclosed – has become a rapidly-spreading cancer in our elections and public policy-making. Someone who knows very well what Wisconsin politics was like years ago, and how that compares with what we have to endure today is Bill Kraus, the Chair of CC/WI since 1995 and a long-time Republican political strategist who served as the top assistant and press secretary to former Republican Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus (1979-83) and as a key adviser and strategist for former Republican Governor Warren Knowles (1965-71).

Read his insightful column on the subject of this onslaught of money in our politics here.

2. Our February 17th "Reform Forum" at Edgewood College in Madison, with State Senators Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Fred Risser (D-Madison), and moderated by Wisconsin State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred, attracted a sizable and lively audience despite polar temperatures and a nasty snow storm. Many who wanted to attend, but could not because of the bad weather, have asked to see a video of the forum – we filmed and posted it on YouTube here in four parts so that they (and you) could view the event its entirety.

3. This coming Wednesday evening, March 5th, CC/WI Director Jay Heck will participate in a forum solely devoted to non-partisan redistricting reform, which has been our top reform priority for the past year.

This event is being conducted by the League of Women Voters of Dane County and will be held in downtown Madison beginning at 7:00 PM. You are cordially invited to attend.

4. In case you missed it, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a lawsuit against Wisconsin's extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law which was enacted in 2011 and became Act 23. With the exception of one primary election in 2012, the law had not been in effect because it was enjoined by lower courts as being too restrictive and in violation of Wisconsin's Constitution and of Federal Voting Rights law.

Two years ago, CC/WI filed an amicus brief in support of a suit based on the law's violation of the Voting Rights Act, and a decision is still pending in federal court in Milwaukee. News accounts of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week were surprisingly "promising" in that several of the members of the Court's conservative block expressed concerns about the burden Act 23 places on some voters in Wisconsin. You can read about these promising developments here.

In a related development, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said recently he may try to push through in April a revised voter photo ID measure (Assembly Bill 493), that passed in the Assembly last Fall, before the Legislature adjourns for the year. But he may not have the votes to do so. At our February 17th "Reform Forum" in Madison, Senator Schultz announced he would not support any further attempts to restrict the ability of Wisconsin voters to cast a ballot as AB 493 would do. That brings to 16 the number of votes against the measure, one shy of a majority. So this battle is not over. Stay tuned.

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

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