Campaign Finance Law Opens Door to Corruption
Will gut campaign finance restrictions and end Wisconsin's good government tradition.
In all my years as a state legislator and as a member of Congress, this coming week at our state Capitol will be the worst I have experienced in a legislative body. That’s because, if the Republican leadership has its way, this coming week will mark the end of clean, open and transparent government in Wisconsin.
In addition to rushing through bills that will dismantle our government watchdog agency and make it easier for political corruption to go undetected and unprosecuted, Republican legislators are proposing changes that would decimate our state’s campaign finance laws. These changes will enable individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning without any disclosure of their identity. Also – for the first time in modern Wisconsin history – corporations will be able to give unlimited money directly to political parties and legislative campaign committees.
When I travel around the greater Racine and Kenosha areas and talk to my constituents, not one person has ever told me they want corporations to have an ever greater influence over our elections and our government. No one has ever told me that they want a larger barrage of radio and TV ads around election time, especially when they don’t have a clue who is paying for them. In fact, they tell me just the opposite – that they believe it is far too easy for deep-pocketed individuals and wealthy special interests to buy elections in Wisconsin and control the agenda in Madison.
What hardworking taxpayers really want is for us to do something to address the fundamental challenges they face every day. They want us to work to improve economic opportunity and security so they can find good jobs and provide for themselves and their families. They want us to rebuild our crumbling roads. They want their kids to get a good education and be able to attend one of our world-class universities or technical colleges without being crushed by student loan debt.
With these campaign finance changes being fast-tracked – without even allowing time for legislators, our service agencies or the public to fully comprehend all the implications of these radical changes – I fear for the ability of ordinary citizens to have a say in their government, which is supposed to be of the people, for the people and by the people. That’s why I strongly encourage you to take action now to let legislators and the governor know that these campaign finance changes will take our state in exactly the wrong direction. This past summer, Republicans were forced by a huge public outcry to back off their plans to threaten your right to access public records. Your advocacy worked before, and it can work again.
You can find out more about how to contact your legislator by visiting the legislative homepage at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ or you can call the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472. It is more important than ever that all of us make our voices heard and make it clear that these campaign finance proposals are wrong for Wisconsin.