Reforms to get a Vote Next Thursday

In this update: 1. Assembly committee schedules vote on reform bills 2. U.S. Supreme Court ruling underscores need for reform 3. Assembly Democrats cancel fundraiser after criticism Reforms to get a Vote Next Thursday 

Email date: 6/9/09

In this update:
1. Assembly committee schedules vote on reform bills
2. U.S. Supreme Court ruling underscores need for reform
3. Assembly Democrats cancel fundraiser after criticism

The Assembly Elections and Campaign Reform Committee is planning to vote next Tuesday on the Impartial Justice bill overhauling state Supreme Court elections and electioneering disclosure legislation that closes the "issue ad" loophole special interest groups exploit to secretly pour huge sums of money into campaign advertising in state elections.

The Democracy Campaign strongly supports both bills.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias. Deciding a West Virginia case that has attracted nationwide attention and was the inspiration for author John Grisham’s 2008 bestseller "The Appeal," the court ruled that a judge who remained involved in a lawsuit filed against the company of the most generous supporter of his election denied the other side the constitutional right to a fair trial.

To read more about the case and the high court’s ruling, go here. To read the joint statement issued by the Democracy Campaign, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Common Cause in Wisconsin, go here.

Earlier this year, the Democracy Campaign joined 26 other groups from around the country in filing a "friend of the court" brief urging the court to decide the case in exactly the way it ultimately did.

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On Friday, the Democracy Campaign posted a blog taking the Assembly Democrats to task for a planned campaign fundraiser that in our judgment ran afoul of a new Assembly rule banning fundraising during the state budget process. At first, Assembly Democratic leaders stubbornly insisted the $1,000-a-head golf outing scheduled for June 15 was within the rules and said they were still planning to attend.

Over the weekend, others joined us in condemning the event and by late yesterday the leaders did an about-face and cancelled the fundraiser. The Assembly Speaker’s hometown newspaper editorialized this morning that he was "about to do the wrong thing" but "earns credit for changing his mind Monday and doing the right thing." That’s how we see it too.