Far-Flung Friends

Email date: 12/16/11

In this update:
1. Governor raises record sums to fend off recall, half from out of state
2. First arrest made in Walker probe
3. Assembly leader proposes bringing back partisan election board
4. Putting the “bill” in Bill of Rights

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Governor raises record sums to fend off recall, half from out of state
Governor Scott Walker reported raising over $5 million to defend himself against the effort to recall him from office. Aided by the loophole allowing public officials targeted for recall to engage in unlimited fundraising, Walker’s haul is the most ever raised by a candidate for any state office in Wisconsin in a single reporting period, with close to half of it coming from outside the state.

A list of the largest donations the governor has received since July can be found here. The biggest came from Texan Bob Perry, who is best known for the infamous “Swift Boat” smear campaign in the 2004 presidential campaign. Perry gave a quarter million dollars in two installments. Members of the Schuette family that owns Wausau Homes donated $152,500. Ross Perot’s son gave Walker $20,000. The limit on individual campaign donations to a candidate for governor in Wisconsin is normally $10,000.

Senators targeted for recall also aggressively raised funds in the period. Wausau-area senator Pam Galloway got $10,000 each from three members of the Schuette family and $5,000 from retired paper industry executive San Orr. Van Wanggaard of Racine got $5,000 from Charles Johnson, founder of the Houston, Texas-based computer company Visual Numerics. Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald of Fort Atkinson received $2,500 from retired Green Bay-area paper company executive Paul Schierl. The limit on donations to a state senate candidate is normally $1,000.

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First arrest made in Walker probe
A real estate broker from the Milwaukee area was arrested earlier this week when he refused to cooperate with law enforcement officials in connection to the criminal investigation of current and former aides to Governor Walker. The broker, Andrew Jensen, is a personal acquaintance of the governor and donated to Walker’s campaign, as did several associates from his firm. More on this from WKOW-TV.

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Assembly leader proposes bringing back partisan election board
Assembly speaker Jeff Fitzgerald thinks election administration and enforcement of campaign finance, ethics and lobby laws needs to be more partisan. Fitzgerald is calling for the nonpartisan state Government Accountability Board to be abolished, and wants to bring back the two agencies the GAB replaced. Member of the state Elections Board were partisan appointees picked by legislative leaders, the governor, the two major political parties and the Supreme Court chief justice. Ethics Board members were appointed by the governor.

Ten years ago the Democracy Campaign called the old elections board a “jury of the politicians’ pals” and pushed for its overhaul.

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Putting the “bill” in Bill of Rights
Humorist Stephen Colbert brilliantly mocked the governor’s new Capitol access policy the other night. Colbert hits the nail on the head with his tongue-in-cheek defense of charging people for protesting because it’s called the “Bill” of Rights.

Backers of this new fee-for-speech policy fail the John Patrick Hunter test.

In 1951, in the midst of the McCarthy era, the late reporter for The Capital Times typed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, six amendments from the Bill of Rights and the 15th Amendment giving ex-slaves the right to vote into the form of a petition and asked people to sign. Twenty accused him of being a communist. Only one of the 112 people Hunter approached recognized the famous words and signed the petition.

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Spread the word by sending this message to people you know. To support the Democracy Campaign’s efforts to make people matter more than money, go here.

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