Monday, April 30, 2012

Campaign Finance and Election Reform Issues Take Center Stage at UWM on May 7th

Press Release
May 2, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


Monday Evening, May 7th

6:30 - 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
UWM Student Union - Wisconsin Room Lounge
2200 Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee, WI

In the last year, Wisconsin – a state once known as the “laboratory of democracy” – has undergone tumultuous change in the way it will conduct elections and consider public policy in the future. 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 will be spent by outside interest groups on advertising during the upcoming recall and general elections. But the citizens of Wisconsin will remain in the dark about who is really behind this flood of “outside” campaign spending and the constant barrage of interest group “phony issue ads” we'll see in the run-up to these elections.

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?

On May 25th, 2011 Governor Scott Walker signed the Photo Voter Photo ID Bill into law— a law that, if allowed to stand, will transform Wisconsin from one of the easiest states in the country in which to cast a ballot to the most restrictive state in the nation in which to vote. Will the new Voter ID law prevent voter fraud? Or will it disenfranchise students, urban dwellers, minority groups, the elderly and disabled -- and ultimately depress voter turnout in Wisconsin?

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 to powerful special interest groups for the financing of their campaigns. In fact, Wisconsin was one of the first states in the nation to implement a public financing system back in 1977. Yet Governor Scott Walker and his legislative allies gutted the state’s public financing system, including the new “Impartial Justice” Law" that provided full public financing to state supreme court candidates who agreed to abide by spending limits.

Now that public financing is gone, should we try to reform our State Supreme Court election process or move toward a merit selection system?

And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to run outside communications, providing these entities with far greater influence on the outcome of elections at both the federal and state levels. How has the Citizens United decision affected Wisconsin and does it matter?

These important political reform issues will be the focus of discussion in Milwaukee this coming Monday evening during one in a series of "reform forums" held across the state by CC/WI:

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

State Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee)
Former State Senator Peggy Rosenzweig (R-Wauwatosa)
Marquette Law Professor and Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske
State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin

Mary Kae Nelson - President of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County - 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


Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Political Reforms That All Recall Candidates for Governor and State Senate Can and Should Support

Press Release
April 16, 2012

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


The incumbent Governor of Wisconsin, all of his opponents, incumbent State Senators and all of their opponents -- both legitimate and illegitimate, real, fake and imagined -- who are on the ballot for the upcoming Recall Primary election on May 8th (and then the winners of that election) on the Recall General election on June 5th -- can, and should embrace, declare their support for, and pledge to work for the enactment of -- if they are elected -- two political reforms that have no cost whatsoever to the taxpayers of Wisconsin and, would if they became law, actually save millions of tax dollars and do much to restore the greatly tarnished and diminished pride and faith that Wisconsinites of all political persuasions once had in their state government.

Both of these political reforms were introduced in the just-adjourned legislative session, have bipartisan support -- so supporting them would not provide political advantage to Republicans or to Democrats -- and would be of enormous benefit to all of the citizens of Wisconsin, regardless of their ideological disposition.

Yet neither of these measures received so much as a public hearing in either the State Senate or the Assembly.

Common Cause in Wisconsin (CC/WI) urges Wisconsin citizens to pose these two questions to all of the candidates for Governor in the upcoming recall Primary and General elections as well as all of the candidates for State Senate in the upcoming recall Primary and General elections in the 13th, 21st, 23rd, and 29th State Senate Districts:
1. Do you support ending Wisconsin's current practice of expensive, secretive, partisan, uncompetitive gerrymandering of Wisconsin state legislative and congressional districts and instead, putting into place a system similar to how Iowa accomplishes redistricting by having a non-partisan state agency draw the new legislative boundaries every ten years after the completion of the Census as detailed in 2011-2012 Assembly Bill 198? If no -- why not?

For more background on this reform, go here.

2. Do you support requiring all special interest groups of all ideological stripes to report who the donors are to the mass and widely-disseminated campaign communications (broadcast, print and mail) that masquerade as "issue advocacy" but which are clearly intended (with no other reasonable interpretation other than) to influence the outcome of the election and are run in the period 60 days prior to a Primary or General Election as detailed in 2011-2012 Senate Bill 446? If no -- who and/or what are you trying to hide?

For more background on this reform, go here.
CC/WI urges citizens to ask these questions of the candidates for Governor and the State Senate during the two months ahead. That is how these issues will get on their "radar screens." If you do not ask, these issues could be ignored. It is as simple as that.

When you ask candidates these two questions about redistricting reform and disclosure of outside special interest group campaign ads posing as issue advocacy, please report your answers to us and we will publish and disseminate those answers -- or lack thereof.

Ending partisan gerrymandering and requiring the disclosure of the donors to the zillions of dollars that outside special interest groups can now spend to buy Wisconsin elections will be huge steps forward in our quest to restore good government to Wisconsin.

And then we will build on that.

Both reforms cost nothing and require only the political will of the people in power who can make them happen. And we can make those people make them happen.


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


Friday, April 13, 2012

CC/WI Public Forum at UW Milwaukee on Monday, May 7th

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

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

Monday, May 7, 2012
6:30 – 8:00 PM

University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
UWM Student Union (Wisconsin Room Lounge)
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

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

Panelists: State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee),
State Representative Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee),
Marquette Law Professor and Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske,
Former State Senator Peggy Rosenzweig (R-Wauwatosa),
and CC/WI Executive Director Jay Heck.

ModeratorMary Kae Nelson - President, League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County

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:






Sunday, April 1, 2012

In the News - April 2012