Hell Freezes. Pigs Fly. Campaign Fundraising Drops

In this update: 1. Legislative fundraising falls to lowest level in 10 years 2. Stakes are high in U.S. Supreme Court election spending case 3. WDC’s online database of campaign donors updated 4. Judicial appointment has look of patronage Hell Freezes. Pigs Fly. Campaign Fundraising Drops 

Email date: 8/4/09

In this update:
1. Legislative fundraising falls to lowest level in 10 years
2. Stakes are high in U.S. Supreme Court election spending case
3. WDC’s online database of campaign donors updated
4. Judicial appointment has look of patronage

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State legislative fundraising falls to lowest level in 10 years
For the first time since 1999 state legislators raised less than $1 million in a six-month period from January through the end of June. This has everything to do with the state Assembly’s rule prohibiting members from soliciting or accepting campaign donations while the state budget was under construction. Some assumed that because the rule applies only to members of the Assembly, it would result in a windfall for senators and the governor. But it didn’t happen. Their fundraising was down too.

Without the budget to use as a fundraising tool, lawmakers passed a state spending plan on time for the first time in 32 years.

To read the Democracy Campaign’s report on campaign fundraising in the first half of the year, go here. For audio commentary on our findings, go here to listen to our podcast.

With the numbers showing that the Assembly fundraising ban clearly had a beneficial effect, a strong case has been made for passage of proposed legislation cementing the policy in state law and extending it to the Senate, governor and party leadership PACs as well as the Assembly. The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram called for just such action in an editorial a couple of weeks ago.

Please take a few minutes to urge your state senator to support a state law banning fundraising during the state budget process. To contact your senator, go here. If you don’t know who your senator is, go here.

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Stakes are sky high in federal election spending case
There are not many remaining barriers to the buying and selling of our government. But a serious threat to what little protection is left led the Democracy Campaign to join 19 legal and civic groups from across the country in intervening in a crucial campaign finance case and filing a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to strike down two key legal precedents upholding century-old campaign finance regulations.

To read the brief, go here. For more on what’s at stake, check out our latest Big Money Blog.

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WDC’s online database of state donors updated
We recently finished adding more than 15,000 new records of campaign donations to state candidates to our searchable database. The updated database now contains information on contributions through March 23 for state Supreme Court candidates and through the end of 2008 for all other state offices. We also added old records of donations to Governor Jim Doyle to create a complete accounting of contributions back to 1991. Previously, the database contained records of donations to Doyle back to 1995.

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Judicial appointment has look of patronage
So much for the idea some have peddled that the way to remove politics from judicial selection is to appoint judges. Despite not being named a finalist by a merit selection committee, Governor Doyle nevertheless picked a judge who happened to have given his campaign more money than any of the other candidates.

To read some reaction to the appointment, go here and here.