Monday, April 10, 2017

Wisconsin Supreme Court Should Adopt Strong Recusal Rule Proposed by Former Jurists



For Release: Thursday - April 10, 2017


On April 20th, the Wisconsin Supreme Court may consider, in open conference, a petition submitted three months ago, in January, 54 retired judges – including two former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices – unveiled a strong proposal that would establish reasonable thresholds for recusal for elected municipal court judges, circuit court judges, state court of appeals judges and state supreme court justices in cases where they received campaign contributions from a defendant or plaintiff appearing before them. The full petition from the retired jurists is here.

Wisconsinites would be surprised to know that our state is considered among the four worst states in the nation with regard to recusal standards for campaign contributions. In fact we have none – and the current state recusal "standard" was written by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, one of the state's most powerful special interest groups that has spent millions of dollars over the years to elect conservative state supreme court justices. It was adopted verbatim by a 4 to 3 vote, seven years ago.

Below is the letter we sent last week to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on this critical matter:





April 5, 2017

The Honorable Patience D. Roggensack
Chief Justice
Wisconsin Supreme Court
P.O. Box 1688 Madison, WI 53701-1688

Dear Chief Justice Roggensack,

On behalf of the State Governing Board and the more than 12,000 members and activists of Common Cause in Wisconsin, we respectfully request that the Wisconsin Supreme Court consider and adopt Rule Petition 17-01 on recusal, submitted to you in January by 54 retired jurists, including two former members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Rule Petition 17-01 requests that the Court amend the Code of Judicial Conduct to establish an objective standard for requiring recusal or disqualification of a municipal court judge, circuit court judge, state court of appeals judge, or a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice who has received campaign contributions from a party or lawyer. It further supports amending the Wisconsin Constitution so that the Supreme Court can maintain a quorum in the event of such a recusal, as lower courts routinely do now.

We believe that a failure to adopt sensible, reasonable recusal rules, such as those laid out in Rule Petition 17-01, put the integrity and reputation of all Wisconsin Courts at greater risk than they suffer currently, resulting in the further erosion of public confidence in the impartiality and fairness of judges at all levels and, in particular in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

As the retired jurists noted in their statement of purpose, “As money becomes more predominant, citizens rightfully ask whether justice is for sale. The appearance of partiality that large donations cause strikes at the heart of the judicial function, which depends on the public’s respect for its judgments.”

Public opinion polling in Wisconsin over the last half decade suggests that the public’s respect for the judiciary has never been lower.

The problem stems, in part, to the failure in 2009 of a majority of this Court to adopt a proposal, put forth by Justice N. Patrick Crooks, to require recusal if a justice had received substantial election support from one of the parties in the case. This error was compounded in 2010 by the adoption by a majority of the Court of essentially, a non-recusal rule written and accepted, apparently verbatim, from two of the state’s largest business organizations, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

As a result of these two actions and because of the failure of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to adopt a strong recusal rule at the explicit invitation of the Supreme Court of the United States in the wake of its landmark 2009 Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company decision, our state currently ranks 47th of the 50 states in terms of the strength of its recusal rules according to a survey cited by the retired Wisconsin jurists in Rule Petition 17-01. That is simply shocking and unacceptable.

Further, strong recusal rules are even more necessary in the aftermath of the Court’s 2015 decision to strike down Wisconsin law that had prohibited campaign coordination between candidate campaigns with outside special interest groups who spend vast sums of money engaging in non-express advocacy or phony issue advocacy, with a clear intent to influence the outcome of elections.

This controversial decision exceeded even the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United v. F.E.C. decision in allowing coordination between so-called issue ad groups and candidates. Citizens United prohibited this type of coordination. The fact that the four Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices who voted in 2015 to decriminalize this kind of coordination, had themselves been supported by one or more of the organizations engaging in that coordination during the 2011-2011 recall elections, further underscores the urgent need for strong recusal standards and rules.

The most recent contested Wisconsin Supreme Court election in 2016 further illustrates the growing need for recusal rules. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “issue ad” groups spent more than $2.25 million attempting to influence the outcome of the election while the two candidates themselves spent a combined total of $777,440 – about one third as much as the outside spending. And yet one of those outside groups could conceivably appear as a party to a case that came before the Court and the justice who benefited by the election spending of that group would not be required to recuse herself under current law.

That is simply a standard that invites even deeper cynicism and distrust on the part of citizens of all political and philosophical persuasions in the ability of this state’s highest court to be able to render justice fairly and impartially.

You, and the other six justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court have it within your power to restore a modicum of citizen confidence and trust in not only the state’s highest court, but in state courts of all levels by adopting the thresholds recommended by the distinguished group of 54 retired jurists in Rule Petition 17-01.

We respectfully urge that you seize this opportunity to do so.

Sincerely,


Jay Heck
Executive Director




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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Monday, April 3, 2017

Make Sure You Are Ready to Vote on Tuesday, April 4th!



For Release: Monday - April 3, 2017


Polls Open Tomorrow from 7am to 8pm

A Spring election may not seem like a big deal, but make no mistake – every election matters.

Tomorrow we choose Wisconsin's Superintendent of Public Instruction, the person who will determine what our state's educational landscape will look like for the next four years.

Let that sink in.

We'll also cast a vote for a Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge (in Districts 1, 2, and 4) and various members of our local governments.

Do NOT sit this election out. Make sure you are ready NOW to go to the polls tomorrow.

First, look over the IDs pictured left to ensure you have a photo ID that can be used for voting.

(Click to enlarge image)

If you already have a Wisconsin driver license or one of the other acceptable forms of ID for voting, then you're "ID ready." Just remember to bring it with you when you head to your polling place!

What if you don't have an acceptable ID for voting on Election Day?

You can ask for AND vote with a provisional ballot. But, for your ballot to be counted, you MUST either come back to your polling place with an acceptable form of ID before it closes at 8:00 pm tomorrow OR bring your ID to your municipal clerk's office by 4:00 pm the Friday after the election (April 7th).

For more on getting a free ID for voting, see our voter ID fact sheet or visit Bring It to the Ballot.

Are you a college student planning to use your student ID for voting?

If you do not have one of the other forms of photo ID pictured above, and you are a college student hoping to use your student ID and a proof of enrollment document as your "voter ID," look up your school NOW on the appropriate list linked below to see if your current student ID is an acceptable form of ID for voting. If your student ID cannot be used for voting, you can find out if a separate school-issued "voter photo ID" is available and how to get one.

  University of Wisconsin – 4-Year Schools
  University of Wisconsin – 2-Year Schools
  Wisconsin Private Universities & Colleges
  Wisconsin Technical Colleges


Are you registered to vote?

Before you head out to the polls, check to see that you are registered to vote at your current address. If you are not, be sure to bring a proof of residence document (hard copy or electronic on your cell phone or tablet) when you go to the polls on Tuesday so that you can register there.

Where is your polling place?

To find out where to go to cast your ballot, visit the "Find My Polling Place" page on the Wisconsin Election Commission's My Vote Wisconsin website and type in your address.

What's on your ballot?

Visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's "What's on My Ballot" page and type in your address to see a sample ballot.

Remember – EVERY election is important. Make your voice heard tomorrow!




Contact:


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



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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Legislation Posing a Threat to the U.S. Constitution Gets a Public Hearing in the Capitol Today



For Release: Tuesday - March 28, 2017


Today in the Capitol, there will be a joint State Senate - Assembly Committee Hearing for several misguided resolutions calling for what is called an "Article V Convention of the States" for the stated purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A convention like this has never been called and assembled before in our nation's history and it could be a very destructive and dangerous event. A convention of this type could go well beyond a balanced budget measure and go on to alter or eliminate citizen rights currently protected by the Constitution. Voting rights, civil rights, women's rights. The possibilities are endless.

Wisconsin could become the 29th or 30th out of 34 states needed to call for a convention if these measures clear the Legislature.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published this excellent editorial Saturday denouncing this dangerous proposal. The Journal Sentinel also published this informative guest editorial written by national Common Cause President, Karen Hobert Flynn.

Common Cause in Wisconsin's testimony against this proposal is here.

What citizens can and must do: Contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and tell them to oppose the call for a dangerous, Article V Constitutional Convention! If you are not sure who your state legislators are, go here.

Never surrender. Never give in. 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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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GOP Legislative Leaders Spending Taxpayer Funds for Unconstitutional, Rigged Voter Maps in Secret?



For Release: Wednesday - March 22, 2017


Last month, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), authorized – without public input, or even a vote in the Legislature – the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds to defend the 2011 state legislative district maps drawn in secret. Those maps were struck down by a federal court three-judge panel in November and in January, the same court ordered that the current maps must be redrawn, according to criteria stipulated by the court, before November 1, 2017.

To date, Fitzgerald and Vos have not begun taking action (that the public has been informed about) to comply with that court order. There have been no announcements about when the redrawing of the state legislative district lines will begin, what process will be utilized to do so, when public hearings will be held, and if the public will be "allowed" to play a role in the process.

The GOP leaders have also not revealed how they are spending taxpayer dollars and to whom those funds are being paid, in the defense of the unconstitutional, rigged 2011 voter maps.

Also late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel formally appealed the November federal court decision to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Schimel, and his cohort of state Justice Department lawyers, are paid with taxpayer dollars – so the lawyers Fitzgerald and Vos have hired amount to a double hit on the wallets of Wisconsin taxpayers to defend unconstitutional, hyper-partisan voter maps.

At the very least they owe us a public accounting of how our money is being spent. But thus far? Nothing. No timetable for redrawing the voter maps and no disclosure of how taxpayer dollars are being (or will be) spent.

In the meantime, citizens have been very active contacting state legislators in support of redistricting reform legislation (Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44) and in demanding that taxpayer dollars not be utilized to defend the 2011 maps. Further, in just the last several weeks, more than 700 new Wisconsinites have signed our online petition in support of redistricting reform, boosting our total to over 3,400! Our goal is lofty, but doable – 5,000. If you haven't signed it yet, please do so. If you have, urge others to do so.

Citizens ask us all the time what they can do to advance the adoption of fair voter maps and end partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The answer is that there is plenty that citizens can do. Start with these five things. Then, educate others about the need for redistricting reform and write letters to newspapers like this excellent one from a Wausau resident. Further educate yourself on this issue. Read this excellent, recent op-ed written by CC/WI State Governing Board member Tom Frazier on this issue and consider writing one yourself.

Even if you have contacted your own State Senator and State Representative already, do so again! They need to be reminded. Continually. And if you haven't contacted Fitzgerald and Vos about scheduling a public hearing for Senate Bill 13 and Assembly Bill 44 (they have the power to order public hearings, or to block one from being scheduled), or to tell them you resent and oppose the use of your tax dollars to defend the unconstitutional, rigged legislative district maps that they hold so dear, contact them now! Here's how to reach those two:

Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov

(608) 266-5660

Rep.Vos@legis.Wisconsin.gov

(608)266-3387

We must keep the pressure on. And we must – and will – never give up. On Wisconsin!

(That applies to the "Sweet Sixteen" NCAA basketball games this weekend as well).

Go Badgers! :-)






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, March 9, 2017

Wisconsin Judiciary Should Adopt Strong Recusal Standards for Campaign Contributions / Keep Independent WI Judicial Commission



For Release: Thursday - March 9, 2017


Two months ago, in January, 54 retired judges – including two former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices – unveiled a strong proposal that would establish reasonable thresholds for recusal for elected municipal court judges, circuit court judges, state court of appeals judges and state supreme court justices in cases where they received campaign contributions from a defendant or plaintiff appearing before them. The full petition from the retired jurists is here.

Wisconsinites would be surprised to know that our state is considered among the five worst states in the nation with regard to recusal standards for campaign contributions. In fact we have none – and the current state recusal "standard" was written by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, one of the state's most powerful special interest groups that has spent millions of dollars over the years to elect conservative state supreme court justices. It was adopted verbatim by a 4 to 3 vote, seven years ago.

Since that time, contribution limits to candidates have vastly increased and outside spending has risen exponentially. Public financing for state supreme court candidates who voluntarily agreed not to raise campaign contributions was repealed (in 2011) and now more money than ever before dictates the outcome of state supreme court elections and increasingly, elections for state court of appeals, circuit court and even municipal court.

What can citizens do?

For starters, learn about this issue and then contact the seven current members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and tell them that you believe they ought to adopt the threshold limits for recusal proposed by the 54 retired jurists. For state supreme court justices, the threshold amount is $10,000; for judges on the state court of appeals, $2,500; for circuit court judges, $1,000; and for municipal court judges, $500. These are reasonable and prudent thresholds.

On a related matter, Governor Scott Walker has proposed, in his 2017-19 budget proposal, eliminating the 40-year-old independent Judicial Commission and handing over its independent oversight and discipline functions to the State Supreme Court Justices themselves. This is a terrible idea that was thwarted two years ago when Walker first proposed it. This recent editorial from the Racine Journal Times makes the case as to why this proposal should never see the light of day.

Here is what you can do: contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and tell them you want this awful proposal removed from the state budget (where it really has no business being included for in the first place). Then, contact Governor Scott Walker and tell him the same thing:

Office of Governor Scott Walker
State Capitol
115 East
Madison, WI 53707
Tel:(608) 266-1212
Email: governor@wisconsin.gov

Make your voice heard! It's all you have and it's more powerful than you think. Utilize it!




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, March 2, 2017

Citizens Need to Keep Pressure on as Gerrymandered Legislative District Maps Lawsuit to be Considered by U.S. Supreme Court



For Release: Thursday - March 2, 2017


As expected, last Friday Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) appealed the November Federal three-judge Court panel ruling that the 2011 Republican gerrymander of Wisconsin's state legislative districts was unconstitutional. And as we have been detailing for the last month, Republican legislative leaders have, without your permission or public input, decided to utilize your tax dollars to defend the rigged, unconstitutional 2011 maps and that bill will run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That, on top of the fact that Schimel and a cohort of Wisconsin Department of Justice lawyers are already defending the maps on your dime and that more than $2.1 million taxpayer dollars have already been spent defending the unfair, uncompetitive and now, unconstitutional 2011 redistricting process.

It may be some time before the Supreme Court of the United States actually accepts and decides to act on the Whitford case. But in the meantime, there are important actions that any Wisconsin citizen can and should take in order to block the use of taxpayer dollars for the rigged voter maps and advance genuine redistricting reform legislation that has strong support in the Legislature and bipartisan co-sponsorship.

For more on this go here, here, and here.



Last week, on February 22nd, an incredible event occurred in Madison.



There was an "Empty Chair" Town Hall Meeting with Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who was a no-show. Nearly 500 Wisconsinites (479 was the "official" tally and thousands watched on live stream) gathered and asked important questions of Sen. Johnson about their concerns – respectfully and eloquently.

CC/WI Director Jay Heck had the privilege of addressing this powerful gathering for a few minutes about the "Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin" and the need for ending hyper-partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin (and the nation) and adopting a non-partisan redistricting process to draw voter maps modeled after our neighbor, Iowa.

It was an inspiring and exhilarating evening and it is happening all over America! It's organic, grass-roots, and is not underwritten by any special interest groups like the 2009 Tea Party "demonstrations," which were orchestrated by "Americans for Prosperity," a Koch Brothers-funded creation.

Go here to watch the entire town hall meeting. (Jay's remarks begin at 58:18)



Thanks to the incredibly talented organizers: Stephanie Kurtz, Ann Jamison, Adam Wood and others who made this happen in a week!




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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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In the News - March 2017


Read More...


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How You Can Help Advance Fair Voting Maps in Wisconsin





What Everyone Can Do to Advance Fair Voter Maps & Redistricting Reform and Oppose Hyper-Partisan Gerrymandering of State Legislative Districts

1.   Contact both your State Senator and your State Representative and demand they support redistricting reform legislation (Senate Bill 13 & Assembly Bill 44), which would take the drawing of state legislative and congressional districts out of the hands of partisan legislators and entrust that task to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. This is what they do in Iowa and it is respected and trusted by everyone. Reform organizations and pro-reform legislators are united in support of the “Iowa Model.”

2.   Contact State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in support of Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44 and demand that they schedule a public hearing and vote on the reform legislation.

    Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
    (608) 266-5660

    Rep.Vos@legis.Wisconsin.gov
    (608)266-3387

3.   Contact both your State Senator and State Representative and Fitzgerald and Vos and demand that no additional taxpayer money be used to pay legal fees to defend the unconstitutional, rigged 2011 voter maps that Fitzgerald and Vos have authorized when the current lawsuit is appealed and considered by the Supreme Court of the United States.

4.   Sign the online petition in support of redistricting reform legislation (Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44) The petition link is at the top of our home page. Urge others to sign it as well.

5.   Vote! Make sure you have one of the required forms of photo ID in order to vote in Wisconsin and take responsibility for 10 friends/family members to ensure that they have what is required to vote as well.




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



Read More...


Monday, February 20, 2017

Are You Ready to Vote in Tuesday's Primary Election?



For Release: Monday - February 20, 2017


Polls Open Tomorrow from 7am to 8pm

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in the last 20 years there have been three primary races (in 2001, 2005, and 2009) for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, with the average turnout in those primaries at just 5.9% of the state's voting-age population.

We NEED to do better than this for Wisconsin's kids. If you haven't already cast an early ballot, make a plan now to vote in tomorrow's primary.

First, look over the IDs pictured left to ensure you have a photo ID that can be used for voting.

(Click to enlarge image)

If you already have a Wisconsin driver license or one of the other acceptable forms of ID for voting, then you're "ID ready." Just remember to bring it with you when you head to your polling place!

What if you don't have an acceptable ID for voting on Election Day?

You can ask for AND vote with a provisional ballot. But, for your ballot to be counted, you MUST either come back to your polling place with an acceptable form of ID before it closes at 8:00 pm tomorrow OR bring your ID to your municipal clerk's office by 4:00 pm the Friday after the primary election (February 24th).

For more on getting a free ID for voting, see our voter ID fact sheet or visit Bring It to the Ballot.

Are you a college student planning to use your student ID for voting?

If you do not have one of the other forms of photo ID pictured above, and you are a college student hoping to use your student ID and a proof of enrollment document as your "voter ID," look up your school NOW on the appropriate list linked below to see if your current student ID is an acceptable form of ID for voting. If your student ID cannot be used for voting, you can find out if a separate school-issued "voter photo ID" is available and how to get one.

  University of Wisconsin – 4-Year Schools
  University of Wisconsin – 2-Year Schools
  Wisconsin Private Universities & Colleges
  Wisconsin Technical Colleges


Are you registered to vote?

Before you head out to the polls, check to see that you are registered to vote at your current address. If you are not, be sure to bring a proof of residence document (hard copy or electronic on your cell phone or tablet) when you go to the polls on Tuesday so that you can register there.

Where is your polling place?

To find out where to go to cast your ballot, visit the "Find My Polling Place" page on the Wisconsin Election Commission's My Vote Wisconsin website and type in your address.

What's on your ballot?

Visit the Wisconsin Election Commission's "What's on My Ballot" page and type in your address to see a sample ballot.

For more information about the candidates for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, our partners at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin posed important questions to the three candidates and have published the candidates answers here.

Remember – EVERY election is important. Make a plan and make your voice heard!




Contact:


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, February 16, 2017

Taxpayers to be Fleeced by GOP Legislative Leaders for Defense of Unconstitutional, Rigged Voter Maps



For Release: Thursday - February 16, 2017


"Taxation Without Representation" in Every Sense of that Phrase

Late Wednesday, it was revealed that State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) had secretly signed contracts with two law firms to utilize hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to pay for the defense of unconstitutional, rigged voter maps created in secrecy by GOP leaders in 2011.

This is the most blatant example of "taxation without representation" in every sense of that famous phrase.

There was no public input into this secret decision, which will further burden Wisconsin taxpayers, who have already been forced to shell out more than $2.1 million to create and defend the maps of state legislative districts in Wisconsin. They were drawn in complete secrecy in what was considered to be the most hyper-partisan Republican gerrymander in the nation in 2011 and one of the five most hyper-partisan redistricting processes in American history.

Last November, a federal court panel struck down Wisconsin's 2011 voter maps as unconstitutional for excessive partisanship. That decision is very likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States soon. In the meantime, the federal court panel has ordered the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to redraw the state's legislative districts in a less partisan and more transparent way before November 1, 2017 – in time for the 2018 elections.

The expenditure of taxpayer dollars to defend the 2011 gerrymander serves no legitimate public purpose. The Wisconsin Attorney General, Brad Schimel, and his cohort of taxpayer-paid lawyers at the Department of Justice are already on board to defend the unconstitutional 2011 voter maps. The unilateral decision to hire one Chicago and Washington, D.C.-based law firm for at least $175,000 and another Wisconsin-based GOP law firm at $300 an hour (with no cap) was made by Fitzgerald and Vos with no public input. Legal costs could soar at our expense.

Wisconsin citizens need to contact Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos and their own State Senator and State Representative and demand that taxpayer funds not be utilized to defend unconstitutional, hyper-partisan voter maps. Many of you have done this in the last several weeks and we know that your voices are generating considerable concern and consternation under the Capitol dome.

Secondly, we must demand that the Legislature quickly hold public hearings and then consider and bring to a vote Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44 – bipartisan legislation introduced within the past month in the Legislature by State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). This legislation, introduced for the third consecutive legislative session, is modeled after the Iowa redistricting process which was adopted by and enacted into law in 1980 by a Republican Governor (Robert Ray) and a Republican-controlled Iowa State Senate and House. Why? Because the Governor and the Legislature came to the realization that a non-partisan system, in which a professional state agency should draw the maps (carefully following strict, specific criteria) and not partisan legislators, would have the support and confidence of the citizens of Iowa. In Wisconsin currently, public interest and concern is ignored in favor of narrow, selfish, partisan considerations.

It is imperative that all of us contact both our State Senator and our State Representative and demand that they co-sponsor and support Senate Bill 13/Assembly Bill 44. Thus far, the legislation has the support of 13 State Senators (all Democrats) and 33 State Representatives, including Republican Todd Novak of Dodgeville. We need to pressure Republicans to break rank with their leaders and do the right thing for voters. If you are not sure who your state legislators are, go here. Please share with us any response you may receive. Also, please let us know if you have contacted your State Senator and State Representative and they do not respond.

And finally, if you have not done so already, please sign our on-line petition in support of the Iowa-model legislation. We are nearing 3,000 signatures and want to add to that total in the weeks ahead.

Your voices are making a difference. Keep applying pressure!




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



Read More...


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Statement on Republican Legislative Leaders Hiring Undisclosed Law Firms to Defend Indefensible 2011 State Voter Maps




For Release: Thursday February 2, 2017

The revelation yesterday that Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders intend to hire – at taxpayer expense – two law firms through a secret vote, and without naming the firms, is richly ironic and insulting to every Wisconsin voter. Their 2011 state legislative voter maps were deemed unconstitutional last November by a panel of federal judges, in part, because of the lack of transparency and extreme secrecy utilized by these same leaders during the 2011 redistricting process.

Last Friday, the Wisconsin State Legislature was ordered to begin redrawing those 2011 maps and to complete the process by November 1, 2017 – and now the GOP leaders respond with more lack of transparency and still more secrecy.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) should stop acting like groundhogs hiding in their holes on redistricting matters. It gives a bad name to groundhogs.

All Wisconsin taxpayers, who will be forced to bear the cost for the defense of the unconstitutional maps by outside law firms, and all Wisconsin voters, who were robbed of input into the process and of real choices in general elections, should demand an end to this top-down arrogance and insist on complete transparency in all matters relating to complying with the federal court order to redraw voter maps this year and thereafter.

Complete transparency, for that matter, is a principle that should guide all state government actions.




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



Read More...