Monday, March 16, 2015

"Political Corruption Protection" Legislation to Gut John Doe Investigation Advances in State Senate/More

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Monday March 16, 2015

1.   Bill to Kill John Doe Investigation of Scott Walker and Investigate Any Political
      Corruption Passes Senate Committee on 3 to 2 Vote

2.   Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform Legislation Introduced with Bipartisan Support
      and Has 47 Co-Sponsors Already

3.   Wausau Talk on The Advance of Corrupting Money in Wisconsin Politics
4.   Forum on Legislative Caucus Scandal and Need to Preserve and Protect the
      Wisconsin G.A.B. in Madison Tuesday Evening

1. Legislation that would severely cripple the long-established "John Doe" process for investigation of many crimes, including political corruption, in Wisconsin, Senate Bill 43, received a public hearing last Wednesday before the State Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. We have coined this measure the "Political Corruption Protection Act of 2015," or the "PCP" bill, for short. Like the PCP drug, this legislation is toxic, dangerous, mind-altering and ought to be avoided and made illegal. How ironic that it was considered before a committee dealing with "public safety." This measure is anything but safe.

Former Milwaukee County District Attorney and current CC/WI Board Member E. Michael McCann, who utilized the John Doe process to prosecute former State Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala (D-Madison) and ultimately convict Chvala of two felonies during the 2001-2002 Legislative Caucus Scandal, said enactment of this legislation will permanently end the John Doe investigation of the 2012 recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and the nation will want to know why Walker allowed that to happen as he runs for President. It would also prevent the John Doe process to be used in the future to investigate political corruption in Wisconsin.

For other news accounts of McCann's comments and of the hearing go here and here. Earlier, CC/WI said this.

To view (on Wisconsin Eye) the public hearing, McCann's testimony (starts at 01:33:30) and the questioning by Committee Senators, go here – and to read McCann's written testimony, go here.

On the day after the hearing, the State Senate Committee passed Senate Bill 43 on a party-line vote with Republican Senators Van Wanggaard of Racine, Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa and Frank Lasee of DePere voting for this misguided measure. Democratic Senators Fred Risser of Madison and Lena Taylor of Milwaukee voted no. The measure could be scheduled for a vote by the full State Senate at any time. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said last week he was inclined not to consider the measure in the Assembly until after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on whether the John Doe investigation of Walker's 2012 recall campaign could proceed. If the Court were to vote for the John Doe to proceed (unlikely but possible), you can be sure that Vos will ram this measure through the Assembly and send it to Walker for signature in record time. The national fallout that would ensue if that happens would likely be tumultuous.

2. Legislation with bipartisan support that would replace Wisconsin's current hyper-partisan, secretive and expensive redistricting process with a widely heralded non-partisan, fair and cost-effective redistricting modeled after Iowa, was introduced two weeks ago. Senate Bill 58 is identical to the anti-gerrymandering measures that gained substantial support during the 2013-2014 legislative session, including the endorsement of 19 daily Wisconsin newspapers. The main author of Senate Bill 58 is State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and the measure already has 47 co-sponsors! CC/WI has a listing of all the co-sponsors on our website, which you can view here. We will constantly update that listing, so check back often to see who is on and who isn't.

There will be much more on the redistricting reform legislation in the weeks ahead when it is officially "rolled out." Senate Bill 58 also appears to be immune from a constitutional challenge now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is a great relief. For more on this, go here.

In related news, at the federal level, Wisconsin U.S. Representative Reid Ribble (R-DePere) introduced bipartisan congressional redistricting reform legislation last week. Ribble has been a strong supporter of ending gerrymandering and faults it for increasing the bitter partisanship and polarization that overwhelms Wisconsin and national politics today.

3. Last Thursday evening, CC/WI Director Jay Heck was in Wausau at the UW Center for Civic Engagement to talk about how campaign money has ruined Wisconsin elections and the public policy-making process over the years. There was a great turnout of many concerned and engaged citizens who were looking to find out what happened in our state, which not long ago, was a national model for clean, honest accountable state government.

The Wausau Daily Herald covered the event and you can read about it here. Thanks to former State Representative Mandy Wright and her colleagues for organizing a great event!

4. This Tuesday evening, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day!) Jay will be part of a panel discussing the 2001-2002 Wisconsin Legislative Caucus Scandal and how that led to the creation of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) in 2007. The GAB is now under assault by the Republican leaders in the Wisconsin Legislature. The panel, which also includes former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager (2003-2007), will discuss why the GAB must be protected and preserved and not be brought under the thumb of partisan legislative leaders and political hacks. Matt Rothschild, the director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, will moderate. For details go here.

If you are in Madison, we hope to see you there!


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

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