Friday, March 7, 2014

Fate of Anti-Election Disclosure Bill Rests With Six Pro-Election Disclosure Republican State Senators

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

For Release: Friday, March 7, 2014

Fate of Anti-Election Disclosure Bill Rests With
Six Pro-Election Disclosure Republican State Senators

Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) Announces Opposition on Thursday

Terrible Legislation that would hinder electioneering disclosure of outside special interest dark money (Senate Bill 654) and increase the ability of lobbyists to make campaign contributions (Senate Bill 655) – both proposed and pushed by special interest group lobbyists – was introduced late Monday, rushed to a public hearing on Wednesday and SB 655 was reported out of committee yesterday for scheduling and a possible vote by the full State Senate.

The fate of both of these misguided measures – but particularly that of Senate Bill 654 – rests in the hands of six current Republican State Senators – who, in 2010, voted in support of a strong electioneering disclosure measure that would have required disclosure of the donors to widely-disseminated communications (including phony issue ads) in the period 60 days or less prior to an election. Senate Bill 654 seeks to codify into law the ability of the purveyors of campaign communications masquerading as issue advocacy to not have to disclose the source of this dark money so that the voters of Wisconsin would not be able to know who is trying to influence their vote.

The six Republican State Senators who would have to change their position 180 degrees and do a full fledged "flip flop" to vote in favor of Senate Bill 654 are: Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center).

On Thursday, Senator Ellis announced on Radio Station WHBY in Appleton, that he opposes both Senate Bill 654 and Senate Bill 655.

The State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban affairs, chaired by State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and the author – together with State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) – of both SB 654 and SB 655, yesterday reported out Senate Bill 655 with a few minor changes and it is now available for scheduling for a vote by the full State Senate.

However, Senate Bill 654 – the anti-disclosure measure – did not receive a vote and apparently lacks sufficient votes in the committee to be reported out at this time. Senator Lazich did not even mention the legislation during the executive session.

But State Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald could still bring the measure to the floor of the full Senate for a vote – even if Lazich's committee lacks a majority of votes to approve SB 654. The measure is not "dead" until the session ends.

CC/WI has aggressively opposed both measures and CC/WI director Jay Heck testified at Wednesday's hearing in the Capitol. You can access the hearing here. (Heck's testimony begins at 1:35:43)

The Wisconsin State Journal strongly editorialized against both of these measures (and cited CC/WI) in Thursday's issue.

The Capital Times published Jay Heck's opinion-editorial railing against both measures on Wednesday.

For other coverage of these fast moving developments go here, here, and here.

Jay Heck will debate these issues further on Capitol City Sunday on Channel 27 - WKOW in Madison, this Sunday - March 9th at 9:00 AM.

And please, if you have not yet done so, contact your State Senator ASAP and urge her or him to oppose both Senate Bill 654 and Senate Bill 655. If you are not sure who your State Senator is, go here.

Revised 3/7/2014 - 7:06 AM.

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

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