Democrats Want More Disclosure by Electioneering Groups

July 13, 2017

Democratic legislators plan to introduce a bill that would require corporations and political committees to disclose money that they spend on advertising two months before an election.

Current law requires a committee that wishes to engage in certain campaign finance activities to register with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission and to report information about fundraising and spending on elections.

This bill requires a political action committee, an independent expenditure committee, and a recall committee to register if the committee spends money on print, broadcast or telephone mass communications that identify a candidate within 60 days of an election. The proposal also requires a person who is not a committee but who spends $500 or more on a mass communication to report that information within 24 hours. It is this latter clause that applies to corporations, as well, since they are considered to be “persons.”

The measure’s sponsors, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, of Middleton, and Rep. Lisa Subeck, of Madison, said the bill is aimed at requiring corporations to disclose how much they raise and spend on elections. “While corporations may deserve a voice in the process, they also deserve the reporting requirements just like everyone else participating in campaigns,” the pair said in a memo to their legislative colleagues.

Erpenbach’s largest contributors between January 2011 and December 2016 are $2,000 each from Deborah Carey, of New Glarus, owner of New Glarus Brewing, and a state political action committee (PAC) controlled by the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. The group is affiliated with the national Democratic Party and supports Democratic candidates for legislative offices around the country. Since January 2010, the group has spent about $610,500 to help elect Democratic legislative candidates in Wisconsin.

The largest contributors to Subeck, who was first elected in 2014, are Stan Subeck, of Glenview, Ill., a financial advisor with Three S Group, and his wife, Suzi, $2,000, and a PAC controlled by the Madison teachers union, $1,500.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign supports this legislation.