Thursday, November 5, 2015

Oppose GAB Destruction & Campaign Finance Deform Measures In State Senate Vote Friday

For Release: Thursday - November 5, 2015

GAB Destruction (SB 294) & Campaign Finance Deform (SB 292) Measures
Get Vote in "Extraordinary Session" Friday

Minor Changes to Both Do Not Merit State Senate
or Wisconsin Citizen Support for Either

After fleeing the Capitol on Tuesday with his fellow Republican State Senators in tow, to hammer out differences in secret, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) apparently "has the votes" to go to the floor of the State Senate Friday in "Extraordinary Session" to pass the GAB Destruction (Senate Bill 294) and Campaign Finance Deform (Senate Bill 292) measures.

The entire process under which Senate Bill 294 and Senate Bill 292 were first unveiled (less than a month ago), fast-tracked through a single public hearing in Madison only, and then rammed through committees and rushed to the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly and slammed through, before being stalled for a week in the State Senate, has been among the most abusive, disrespectful, secretive and despicable in the history of the Wisconsin Legislature. Certainly in recent memory.

Calls and messages from thousands of Common Cause in Wisconsin members and other Wisconsinites to State Senators opposing SB 294 and SB 292 helped cause Fitzgerald to have to postpone Senate floor sessions twice and have to convene an extraordinary session Friday. The taxpayers of Wisconsin will have to bear the considerable cost of having the State Senate in an extra day after the Fall Floor Session ends (today), and will then have to underwrite bringing back to Madison the State Assembly, tentatively, on November 16th, to ratify the cosmetic changes that the Republicans in the State Senate make to the GAB Destruction and Campaign Finance Deform measures, that passed in the Assembly on October 21st. And for what?

To pass Senate Bill 294, a measure that will eliminate the Government Accountability Board, the state agency established by a virtually unanimous bipartisan vote by the Legislature in January, 2007, to enforce Wisconsin's election, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying law and to investigate corruption in state government. The power to investigate will be vanquished as will the six non-partisan, retired judges that apply the law rather than adhere to partisan interests. Instead, two six-member commissions of partisan hacks (with possibly a couple of judges on one of the commissions) will make decisions and will have to go hat in hand to partisan legislators for funding to mount any type of effective investigation of political corruption. The GAB will become a toothless, ineffective backwater state agency that will command the respect of no one in Wisconsin. Think WEDC!

And, Senate Bill 292, the completely hyper-partisan GOP re-write of Wisconsin's campaign finance law that will make Wisconsin one of the worst states in the country in terms of disclosure and transparency of political money that will flood the state to influence the outcome of our elections by out-of-state special interest groups and billionaires. It will also codify into law the ability of candidates to coordinate with outside special interest phony issue ad groups, effectively rendering campaign contribution limits meaningless. No other state in the nation has gone as far as SB 292 in enshrining into law this kind of coordination which will shroud in secrecy the overwhelming majority of political money in our elections. It will also allow legislative leaders to collect unlimited money for their legislative campaign committees, which they can use to exercise dictatorial power over rank-and-file legislators and crush dissent or any independent thought. It will also enhance the opportunities for undetected political corruption to flourish in the Capitol. Think Legislative Caucus Scandal of 2002 on steroids!

CC/WI has opposed both of these measures in the Assembly and now in the State Senate – even with the reported changes, which we have not yet seen in legislation yet. But they sound to us to be far too little, however late.

Very, very few real Wisconsin citizens support either of these measures. That's why GOP legislative leaders had to depend on out-of-state money from "Americans for Prosperity" and from Wisconsin Club for Growth to run ads and make "robo" phone calls into the districts of four "wavering" Republican Senators.

Thousands of Wisconsinites have communicated their opposition to both SB 294 and SB 292. And we must continue to do more in the next two days. We could still change some minds and defeat one or both measures, even though Fitzgerald thinks he "has the votes." Let's prove him wrong!

It is critical that you take action today – and call on your friends and neighbors and family to do so as well – to stop this frontal assault on democracy. Remember, these measures already passed in the State Assembly two weeks ago, so – if they are to be stopped – it is up to us to do so in the State Senate now!

The votes on both SB 294 and SB 292 are scheduled for Friday, November 6th.

And, while the Koch Brothers and Wisconsin Club for Growth have been running ads and making calls into the districts of the hesitant GOP Senators to convince them to vote for SB 294 and SB 292, we have YOU to counter their out-of-state money and power.

Contact your own State Senator – and then contact at least one and, preferably all of the six reluctant GOP State Senators below. If you are one of their constituents, be sure to let them know! Urge them to vote against both SB 294 and SB 292. We need only three, and possibly only two of them to defeat these horrendous measures.

State Senator Rob Cowles (Senate District 2)
(608) 266-0484

State Senator Luther Olsen (Senate District 14)
(608) 266-0751

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (Senate District 10)
(608) 266-7745

State Senator Howard Marklein (Senate District 17)
(608) 266-0703

State Senator Jerry Petrowski (Senate District 29)
(608) 266-2502

State Senator Terry Moulton (State Senate District 23)
608 266-7511

To read CC/WI's written testimony in opposition to the GAB Destruction measure, go here.

To read our written testimony opposing the campaign finance deform measure, go here.

To read the numerous articles, interviews and press releases on both measures, see the "CC/WI in the News" section in the sidebar to the right.

Don't delay. Act today. Never give in. On Wisconsin!


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

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

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!


Owlice said...

Hi, I looked at the bulletin boards yesterday. There is a notice calling for this senate extraordinary session. There is also one calling for an extraordinary session in the Assembly, also Fri. (tomorrow) at 11.
- Genie Ogden

Common Cause in Wisconsin said...

Hi, Genie - thanks for chiming in. As of now, the Assembly plans to consider Senate changes to these measures in an extraordinary session on Monday, November 16th. In the meantime, please continue to reach out to your legislators and tell them to vote NO on these bills! Encourage everyone you know to do the same!