April $howers

In this update: 1. Interest group spending passes $1 million mark in spring races 2. Bill nixing ’home court advantage’ gets hearing 3. The problem behind every problem 4. Coming soon to an election near you. . . . April $howers 

Email date: 4/28/09

In this update:
1. Interest group spending passes $1 million mark in spring races
2. Bill nixing ’home court advantage’ gets hearing
3. The problem behind every problem
4. Coming soon to an election near you. . . .

Special interest groups spent an estimated $1.3 million on their own advertising campaigns to influence the outcomes of the two statewide races in this year’s spring elections, according to a Democracy Campaign tally released today.

It says a lot about the level of special interest group interference in the 2007 and 2008 spring elections that outside group activity in this spring’s elections was regarded as "tame" despite the fact that combined spending by two left-leaning organizations surpassed seven figures.

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The Democracy Campaign testified last week in support of legislation eliminating what has been called a "home court advantage" for state lawmakers. Under longstanding laws in Wisconsin, when citizens are accused of crimes, they are prosecuted where the offense is alleged to have occurred. But a change in the law enacted in early 2007 allows civil and criminal cases involving certain state officials including legislators to be handled in their home counties rather than where alleged crimes are said to have been committed.

WDC’s director told the Assembly Judiciary and Ethics Committee that public officials should not be treated differently from other citizens when it comes to being held accountable to the law. If you agree, please take a few minutes to send a message to members of the committee urging them to support Assembly Bill 62.

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With another Earth Day in the rearview mirror, the thought that keeps coming to mind is that our environment needs more than a day. It needs a democracy. That’s the gist of a Big Money Blog entitled "The Problem Behind Every Problem" that was posted on Earth Day.

Speaking of a problem behind so many other problems, more than a few U.S. Supreme Court decisions come to mind. The Democracy Campaign’s director made a list and checked it twice, and his four worst Supreme Court rulings of all time were posted last Friday as our most recent blog. Check it out and leave a comment adding to or subtracting from the list.

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Over the better part of a decade, we watched as election politics in Wisconsin were slowly but ever so surely Washingtonized. Now there are unmistakable signs that these changes are seeping down to the local community level. And there are fledgling efforts to do something about it.

At the state level, it’s too late to be proactive. It’s now a matter of stuffing the genie back into the bottle. But at the local level, while telltale signs of trouble are starting to show, communities still have an opportunity to nip potential problems in the bud. The question is how ample the supply of foresight and wisdom will turn out to be.