Search for Missing Campaign Finance Records Intensifies

In this update: 1. WDC files open records request to obtain missing campaign reports 2. Public hearing not only way to be heard on Supreme Court election reform 3. ’Revolving door’ bill to get hearing in Assembly committee 4. Sotomayor on campaign cash Search for Missing Campaign Finance Records Intensifies 

Email date: 6/1/09

In this update:
1. WDC files open records request to obtain missing campaign reports
2. Public hearing not only way to be heard on Supreme Court election reform
3. ’Revolving door’ bill to get hearing in Assembly committee
4. Sotomayor on campaign cash

The Democracy Campaign today filed an open records request with the state Government Accountability Board for nearly two dozen campaign finance reports that were due four months ago from legislative office holders and candidates but still have not been made available for public inspection. For the full story, go here. For an audio version of the report, go to our podcast here.

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Last week’s public hearing in Eau Claire and Madison on Supreme Court election reform and special interest campaign disclosure was a resounding success, with excellent turnout in both locations. Lawmakers heard testimony in support of reform from citizens as well as advocacy groups including the Democracy Campaign, Common Cause in Wisconsin, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the State Bar of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Association for Justice. No one testified in opposition to the reforms.

In addition to testifying, the Democracy Campaign also delivered a large stack of petitions bearing the names of many hundreds of people from across the state who want action on the Impartial Justice bill and the Electioneering Disclosure bill. If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late to add your name to the list of Wisconsinites who want lawmakers to act on reform. To sign the petition, go here.

One of the reasons last Wednesday’s hearing should be considered a success is that the give and take that occurred over the course of the afternoon exposed some holes in some committee members’ understanding of the two bills. Our latest Big Money Blog focuses on one case in point.

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Another bill the Democracy Campaign is pushing will receive a public hearing in an Assembly committee tomorrow. The legislation, introduced as Assembly Bill 245, addresses the revolving door between lawmaking and lobbying by requiring a one-year "cooling off" period before departing members of the Legislature can start lobbying. The Democracy Campaign supports the proposal, but would prefer and will recommend a two-year waiting period.

The committee also has scheduled an executive session to vote on Assembly Bill 62, which eliminates what has been called a "home-court advantage" for state lawmakers when it comes to where they are prosecuted if charged with a crime. Current state law allows criminal cases involving legislators to be handled in their county of residence. Anyone else charged with a crime in Wisconsin is prosecuted in the county where the offense is alleged to have been committed. The Democracy Campaign testified in favor of AB 62 at a hearing held in late April.

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Ever since President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to fill an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court, there has been a rush to scrutinize her views on a wide range of issues. In case you’re curious about what Judge Sotomayor’s record says about where she might come down on campaign finance cases, a recent article posted on Politico.com offers some insight.