Midwest Groups Urge Obama to Push Reforms

In this update: 1. 23 groups sign letter to Obama backing federal campaign reforms 2. Numerous campaign reports missing on state Web site 3. Electioneering disclosure rule clears another hurdle 4. Judicial forums raising awareness of need for Supreme Court election overhaul Midwest Groups Urge Obama to Push Reforms 

Email date: 3/31/09

In this update:
1. 23 groups sign letter to Obama backing federal campaign reforms
2. Numerous campaign reports missing on state Web site
3. Electioneering disclosure rule clears another hurdle
4. Judicial forums raising awareness of need for Supreme Court election overhaul

The Democracy Campaign and 22 other groups that are part of the Midwest Democracy Network have sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to support two major federal campaign reforms.

The bipartisan reform bills would overhaul congressional elections with a mix of public financing and incentives for small donations and resuscitate the moribund presidential public financing system.

The letter notes that Obama supported both measures when he served in the U.S. Senate and urges the president to "use the full powers of the White House" to make the reforms a reality.

To voice your support for the federal Fair Elections Now Act reforming congressional elections, go here.

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The Democracy Campaign’s director yesterday testified to the state Government Accountability Board about problems with the state’s new online reporting system for campaign finances and specifically raised concerns about more than five dozen candidate reports that were supposed to be available for public review two months ago but are still nowhere to be found on the new state web site. To read coverage of the story in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, go here.

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WDC also testified yesterday in support of amended rules requiring full disclosure of special interest campaigning in state elections. The GAB then voted unanimously to send the new rules on to the Legislature, which has 30 days to review the proposed changes. If there are no objections, the rules will take effect after the board formally publishes them.

The board also approved a legislative agenda yesterday that includes a number of reforms that have been long sought by the Democracy Campaign.

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Our Judicial Independence Project was in Green Bay last night for a community forum on Supreme Court elections. Panelists included Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson, the head of the Green Bay bar association, a UW-Green Bay professor and WDC director Mike McCabe. Nelson told the audience that a public hearing will be held on the Impartial Justice bill in the next couple of weeks and would likely be taken up by the full Assembly before the state budget process is concluded. He also predicted legislative approval of the Government Accountability Board’s electioneering disclosure rules.

There is another judicial election forum tonight in Lake Mills, and a number of other events coming up soon. A forum in Eau Claire last week inspired this editorial in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.