Candidate Finance Reports Still Unavailable To Public After Four Months

WDC files open records request for nearly two dozen reports

June 1, 2009

Madison - The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed an open records request Monday for campaign finance reports for 22 legislative candidates and officeholders that are still unavailable to the public four months after they were due.

In addition, there are still no 2008 year-end reports posted on the Government Accountability Board’s new electronic filing system for 14 other legislative candidates, including Assembly Speaker Michael Sheridan, who apparently submitted reports to the board because WDC was able to obtain some information upon request.

The reports subject to WDC ’s open records request cover fundraising and spending in the last few months of 2008, including the two weeks leading up to the November 4 general election when many candidates raise and spend most of their money.

The campaign finance reports were supposed to be posted on the Government Accountability Board’s electronic filing system on or before February 2. The open records request – the first WDC has ever had to file for these types of records – asks the board to produce the reports or fine the candidates for not filing the reports.

The Democracy Campaign may pursue a court order to require the board to release the reports if its open records request fails to produce them in a timely manner.

The main purpose of electronic filing was to allow the public access to these reports which shows how much the candidates raise and spend. The reports are an important picture of a candidate’s campaign lifeline because the reports identify the special interests that candidates get their money from.

However, the board’s new electronic filing system unveiled last year has been plagued with problems. Numerous candidates have complained it is difficult to use and dozens of reports filed on it and reviewed by WDC at the beginning of the year contained erroneous fundraising and spending totals, contributions listed two or three times and expenses that were incorrectly identified.

Attached is a copy of the open records request and the 22 candidates for whom campaign finance information is unavailable.