Friday April 3, 2020

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Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

Blog entries categorized under Wisconsin

$42 Million Reasons Walker Goes Easy on Polluters

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 May 2016
in Wisconsin

walkerMADISON - One thing we like to do here at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is to amplify the work of other fine nonprofits and enterprising reporters.

This week offered us three opportunities to do just that.

When the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation came out with a report showing that the enforcement of DNR regulations was at a 30-year low, we showed all the money that polluters have given to Walker & Company:

(1) Walker has $42 million reasons to reduce pollution enforcement

And when our friends over at WisPIRG put out a report on payday lenders, showing that they’re charging a whopping 585 percent interest, we showed how  the payday lenders throw their money around.. Note: Walker and Majority Leader Fitzgerald and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee got the most, but two Democratic committees also got fat checks, as you’ll see here:

(2) Payday lenders gave $339K in Wisconsin for usury

And when Molly Beck at the Wisconsin State Journal revealed that a former Republican legislator got an $80 million contract from the Walker administration, we revealed the money trail here, too:

(3) Former GOP lawmaker and Walker contributor gets state testing contract

These are prime examples of how money is contaminating our politics in Wisconsin right now.

But I’m not pessimistic. I was in a federal courtroom this week in Madison hearing the powerful challenge to the Voter ID law brought by One Wisconsin Now. And next week, there’s another promising court challenge—this one, regarding the partisan manipulation of electoral maps. The lawsuit establishes a nonpartisan yardstick for measuring whether one party is taking undue advantage over another in the drawing of district maps.

I believe we’re going to win both of these cases, which will start giving democracy a chance again in Wisconsin.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director

P.S. Please support this urgent work we’re doing by sending us a tax-deductible gift today. Simply click here. We really appreciate it!

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On John Doe, DAs Deserve Our Thanks!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 01 May 2016
in Wisconsin

john-chisolmMADISON - The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign thanks the courageous district attorneys John Chisholm, Ismael Ozanne, and Larry Nelson for appealing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in the John Doe II case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

While the details of their appeal have not been made public yet, there are two solid grounds for the appeal.

The first is that at least a couple of the justices should have recused themselves from the John Doe case because of a conflict of interest.

The four justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who dismissed the John Doe investigation concerning alleged coordination between Scott Walker and so-called outside groups were aided enormously by some of the very groups that were party to the John Doe case.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America—all of which were reportedly embroiled in the John Doe--together spent more than $8 million in support of Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Annette Ziegler, Justice Michael Gableman, and Justice David Prosser.

ismael-ozanne-daThe second, and even more crucial, basis for an appeal is the fact that the Wisconsin Supreme Court blatantly misread forty years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent on campaign finance.

In tossing out the John Doe II case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the First Amendment prohibits the state of Wisconsin from imposing a ban on coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups. But dating back to Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 and right on through Citizens United of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decisions have been predicated on there being no coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups.

In Buckley, the court ruled that expenditures by outside groups that are coordinated with candidates amount to campaign contributions. “The ultimate effect is the same as if the person had contributed the dollar amount to the candidate and the candidate had then used the contribution,” the court ruled. Such expenditures, it said, should be “treated as contributions rather than expenditures.”

Only the lack of coordination reduces the risk of corruption, the Court stressed in Buckley. “The absence of prearrangement and coordination of an expenditure with the candidate or his agent . . . alleviates the danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidates.”

larry-nelson-daEven in its infamous Citizens United decision, which allowed independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money, the U.S Supreme Court stressed that such groups had to be independent; they couldn’t coordinate with their favored candidates: “By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that line. He will be the crucial vote in this case, assuming that the U.S. Supreme Court hears it. And if Justice Kennedy stands by his own reasoning in Citizens United, the district attorneys have an excellent chance of prevailing and getting the John Doe II decision overturned.

That would be a tremendous outcome because unless the John Doe II decision is overturned, we will have little hope in Wisconsin of limiting the corrupting influence of dark money over our politics.

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Prisoners and the Right to Vote

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 15 April 2016
in Wisconsin

jail-prisonMADISON - On Tuesday, I went to UW-Milwaukee to give a lecture about an under-appreciated aspect of our undemocratic system: the disenfranchisement of prisoners and former prisoners. In researching this talk, I discovered just how blatantly racist the policy has always been:

Felon disenfranchisement, then and now

In our never-ending sorrow at the demise of the Government Accountability Board, our worst fears have been confirmed: Partisans from both sides are being appointed to the new state ethics and elections commissions. This week, it was Peter Barca’s turn:

Barca’s appointees contributed $107K to Democrats

And as we look back at the legislative session, one hypocrisy jumped out at us. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce talks all the time about the need for a highly educated workforce, but it didn’t put any of its money where its mouth is:

WMC, business groups AWOL on higher ed bills

Two announcements:

--If you’re in Madison at the Dane County Farmers' Market on Saturday, please stop by our booth at the southwest corner of the Square (W Main and S Hamilton Sts. across from Inn on the Park). I’ll be there with Madison activist Bert Zipperer from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. {Reminder: there is road construction on the northside of the Square}

--And if you’re in the Sun Prairie area Saturday afternoon, the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) will host a public meeting from 12-3 pm at the Westside Community Service Building at 2598 W. Main St. I'll be speaking around 2 p.m. Topic: “The Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin” (or, “Where Do I Start?”).

Hope to see you soon.

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Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Supreme Court Race

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 March 2016
in Wisconsin

rebecca-bradleyMADISON - For the past few months, we’ve been checking, almost every day, to see when Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce was going to start spending money on behalf of Judge Rebecca Bradley in her race against Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. But we’ve found nothing, which is very puzzling.

One answer to the puzzle may be that WMC is funneling its dough through a dark-money group, as we discuss here:

joanne-kloppenburgIs WMC hiding its $$ in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race?

For a look at all the independent groups, including PACs and bogus “issue ad” groups, that are throwing money around in this race on both sides, just click here:

Hijacking Campaign 2016 updated with new independent spending

And for a look at the biggest individual donors to both candidates, check out this posting:

GOP, Democratic donors continue to give big to high-court candidates

Aside from this Supreme Court contest, and the Presidential race, there is one other important bit of balloting on April 5: In 11 communities in Wisconsin, citizens can vote on referendums to amend the U.S. Constitution to proclaim that corporations aren’t persons and money is not speech. See if your community is on the list here:

Vote to overturn Citizens United on April 5 in Wisconsin!

In any case, please vote in this election. You can still do early voting, also known as in-person absentee voting, this week at your city clerk’s office. Early voting closes at 5 p.m. or the close of business for the municipal clerk (whichever is later) on Friday. Or please show up at your regular polling place on Tuesday. And if you don’t know where that is, just fill out your address here:

https://myvote.wi.gov/Address/AddressSearchScreen.aspx

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Pro-pollution Bills Push Wisconsin Backwards

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 25 March 2016
in Wisconsin

walkerScott Walker signs the last of the nasty bills that Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald plopped on his desk, and Wisconsin keeps going backwards.


MADISON - We’re still waiting to see whether Scott Walker signs the last of the nasty bills that Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald plopped on his desk.

Here’s one of them:

Bill to ease sulfur dioxide pollution enforcement goes to Walker

Speaking of pollution, Tuesday was World Water Day, and Wisconsin keeps going backwards as far as protecting this vital resource goes, as we noted here:

Wisconsin all wet on World Water Day

For the big Wisconsin Supreme Court race on April 5, we just updated our files on the outside groups that are throwing their money around:

Hijacking Campaign 2016 updated with new PAC and issue ad group activity

And I’m still very concerned about the John Doe II appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, so I wrote the following open letter to the DAs involved:

Letter to DAs in John Doe II case appeal

I hope these postings interest you.

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