Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Campaign Cash

Massive Spending on Marsy’s Law

Group funded by California billionaire spent $3.5 million in Wisconsin pushing for more victim rights.

By - Apr 7th, 2020 01:48 pm
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Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

A group behind a proposed amendment to enshrine victim’s rights in the Wisconsin Constitution spent more than $3.3 million on media advertising in the first three months of the year.

Wisconsin residents will vote yeah or nay on the amendment via a referendum in Tuesday’s spring election.

A campaign finance report filed last week by the group, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin LLC, showed it spent a total of nearly $3.5 million on its operations since the beginning of the year. The bulk of its spending, $3.33 million, was for TV ads, radio, online advertising and media consulting. The group’s television ad features television actor Kelsey Grammer.

In addition to the $3.5 million the referendum group spent on media ads, earlier, a lobbying group of the same name doled out $1.6 million between late 2016 through June 2019 to get the referendum passed by two different sessions of the Legislature and placed on Tuesday’s ballot.

Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin LLC was funded entirely by Marsy’s Law for All Foundation in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Mary’s Law for All was launched by Henry Nicholas, the billionaire co-founder of Broadcom, whose sister, Marsy, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983 in California.

Across the country, the group has spent about $102 million in the 12 states where Marsy’s law ballot measures were approved between 2008 and 2018, according to Ballotpedia. Nicholas shelled out about $99 million of those contributions.

The amendment generally duplicates existing victim protections found in state law, but goes further in several areas. If approved by voters, victims would have the right to be heard at court proceedings, to refuse defense attorneys’ requests for interviews, depositions or discovery, and to attend all proceedings in their cases.

Supporters of the amendment, which include law enforcement organizations, say it’s important to protect victim rights in the constitution and not just in state statutes.

But opponents claim Marsy’s Law is dangerous because it could reduce the rights of accused people before they have been convicted of a crime, and that Wisconsin already protects victim rights in the state’s laws and constitution.

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