Monday, October 19, 2015

Demolition of Democracy This Week (Tuesday) in Wisconsin Assembly

For Release: Monday - October 19, 2015

Massive Assault on Democracy and Accountability
of Politicians to Citizens Begins Tuesday

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, hyper-partisan majority Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly are poised to attempt to ram through measures that would:

1) Cripple the ability to effectively investigate and prosecute political corruption by state legislators and state-wide elected officials, including the Governor.

2) Eviscerate and destroy the non-partisan state agency charged with enforcement of state elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying law.

3) Deregulate, almost completely, campaign finance law so that formerly illegal campaign coordination between candidates with outside special interest groups will be permitted (encouraged) and codified into law, far more secret money from outside of Wisconsin will influence our elections, and much more money will flow into the coffers of legislative leaders in the Capitol to quash dissent and hasten the possibility of further corruption and scandal.

This massive, coordinated blitzkrieg on democracy and transparency commences on Tuesday, when the Assembly will debate Assembly Bill 68, partisan legislation that would exempt politicians from being able to be investigated for misconduct in public office, bribery of public officials, theft, all violations of campaign finance laws, all election law offenses, corrupt means to influence legislators, extortion, private interest in public contract, lobby law violations, criminal violations of state ethics rules, false swearing, and those additional crimes that may occur when a John Doe investigation is underway, such as perjury, bribery of a witness, and tampering with public records. It is astonishing that such legislation was even contemplated, let alone about to be rammed through the Wisconsin Assembly.

Long-time (1968-2004) Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann, who investigated and prosecuted former Democratic State Senator Chuck Chvala of Madison during the infamous Legislative Caucus Scandal in 2002, has said he and other prosecutors would not have been able to uncover the corruption in the Capitol had this ill-advised and obviously self-serving legislation been the law at that time. McCann, a long-time member of the Common Cause in Wisconsin State Governing Board since retiring as D.A. in 2004, wrote this opinion-editorial against AB 68, which appears in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For a more detailed explanation from McCann about what what is so wrong with this measure, how the John Doe process works, and why the Republicans are so intent on changing it, go here.

On Wednesday, the Republican legislative leaders in the Assembly have tentatively scheduled for a vote, Assembly Bill 388, the completely unjustified legislation premised on a long sequence of unsubstantiated charges, false premises and fabricated events, in order to destroy the non-partisan Government Accountability Board. Common Cause in Wisconsin has long opposed this legislation, which would replace six non-partisan, retired judges with 12 partisan hacks who will, instead, act at the bidding of partisan legislative leaders and the Governor. And the ability of the GAB to investigate corruption will be eviscerated. This legislation will ensure that Wisconsin's elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying law will be enforced – not according to the law or for the public interest – but instead for narrow, partisan political advantage and to shield corruption.

We have already said a lot about the need to preserve the GAB, as is, and you can review it here, here, here, and here.

Here is Jay Heck's testimony against AB 388 delivered last week at the Capitol legislative hearing.

Also on Wednesday, the Assembly is scheduled to vote on Assembly Bill 387, the massive and secret hyper-partisan Republican re-write of Wisconsin's campaign finance law that was unveiled for the first time only 12 days ago and was made even worse that it was, as introduced, during a committee executive session on the legislation on October 15th. In short, Assembly Bill 387 will allow much more secret money from outside of Wisconsin to influence our elections and dictate our public policy-making process. It will codify into law formerly illegal campaign coordination and allow legislative leaders to collect unlimited money for their legislative campaign committee "slush funds," which they control and which will guarantee virtual complete dictatorial power over rank and file members and allow far more secret money to influence everything that happens in the State Capitol. Scandal should follow in the not-too-distant future.

To review why this legislation is so horrific for Wisconsin, go here, here, here, and here.

Here is Jay Heck's testimony against AB 387 delivered at the October 13th Capitol legislative hearing.

We must fight these measures now! Even if you have already done so, and particularly if you have not done so yet:

Call or email your State Senator AND State Representative TODAY and demand they oppose all three bills: AB 68, AB 388 and AB 387. (If you don't know who your state legislators are, go here.)

Spread this post far and wide.
Act now!


Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703

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