Making 'em All Mad

In this update: 1. Doyle "cleared" of wrongdoing, Ziegler joins court that could soon discipline her 2. Governor says he wants action on campaign reform this fall 3. FCC to hold hearing in Chicago on media ownership Making ’em All Mad

Email date: 8/2/07

In this update:
1. Doyle "cleared" of wrongdoing, Ziegler joins court that could soon discipline her
2. Governor says he wants action on campaign reform this fall
3. FCC to hold hearing in Chicago on media ownership

In the course of two days, events unfolded that rekindled gripes from across the political spectrum about Democracy Campaign actions that both sides have alternately claimed reveal supposed partisan bias.

First, in what some called a "major victory" for Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, the state Justice Department announced Tuesday it was closing its investigation into whether campaign donations to the governor influenced state regulators’ decision to approve the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, saying "no evidence" of anything illegal had been found. The investigation was triggered by a December 2005 report by the Democracy Campaign showing a suspicious pattern of donations from utility executives with a stake in the sale around the time the Public Service Commission reversed an earlier decision to reject the sale. Doyle loyalists angrily denounced our findings at the time and now feel vindicated.

Then yesterday conservative jurist Annette Ziegler was sworn in as the newest member of the state Supreme Court. But her new colleagues on the high court may soon have to sit in judgment of her as a state Judicial Commission investigation requested by the Democracy Campaign could result in the filing of a formal ethical misconduct complaint with the Supreme Court. The response from Ziegler’s allies to our call for an ethics probe mirrored that of the Doyle camp to our concerns about the utility donations.

Oh well.... It comes with the territory.

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Responding to the news that investigators found that no laws were broken in the Kewaunee nuclear plant case, the Democracy Campaign’s director said, "when key decisions are made, there just shouldn’t be fundraisers held that are sponsored by utilities that have a stake in the decision. Even if the behavior is legal, it doesn’t make it right."

Governor Doyle appeared to acknowledge as much as he took pains to emphasize his plans to push for campaign finance reform this fall. Several months ago, the governor’s chief of staff told both the Democracy Campaign and Common Cause in Wisconsin that Doyle would call the Legislature into special session after the state budget is adopted to act on campaign reform legislation. We certainly will look to hold the governor to that promise.

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Back in June, an alliance of Midwest reform groups including the Democracy Campaign called on the Federal Communications Commission to hold hearings in the Midwest on broadcaster accountability issues. A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, September 20 in Chicago.