New Opportunities for Reform

In this update: 1. Majority of new Legislature on record in favor of reform 2. UW Law School forum on justice, money and politics on Nov. 18 3. Internet access gets election-day boost New Opportunities for Reform

Email date: 11/6/08

In this update:
1. Majority of new Legislature on record in favor of reform
2. UW Law School forum on justice, money and politics on Nov. 18
3. Internet access gets election-day boost

More than half of the members of the new Legislature have either voted for or publicly committed to support two important campaign reforms.

Fifty-one elected to the 99-member Assembly and 25 of the 33-member Senate are on record in favor of electioneering disclosure legislation that would require special interest groups that sponsor phony election-season "issue ads" to reveal how much they spend and who is paying for the advertising as well as follow existing state limits on campaign contributions. This not only bodes well for passage of disclosure legislation but also legislative endorsement of new disclosure rules the Government Accountability Board will consider and may approve as soon as next Tuesday.

There also is demonstrated majority support in the new Legislature for the Impartial Justice bill creating a system of publicly financed state Supreme Court elections, with 50 members of the Assembly and 22 members of the Assembly already on record in favor of the reform.

Ten members of the new Legislature, including eight newly elected lawmakers, have not taken a public position on the two reforms. Of the 10, eight are in the Assembly and two are newly elected senators. Six of the 10 are Republicans and four are Democrats.

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The Democracy Campaign is co-sponsoring a forum on "Justice, Money & Politics" to be held at the University of Wisconsin Law School on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The discussion is timely as another state Supreme Court election looms on the horizon, and everyone is wondering if next spring’s race will go the way of the last two high court campaigns, which were easily the costliest and ugliest in state history.

Wisconsin is not the only place where court races are being overrun by partisan and special interest influences. Michigan just went through what is arguably the worst Supreme Court election yet. To see some of the ads, go here, here, here, here, here and here.

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Tuesday’s election results were historic, no doubt about it. But few know there was a landslide vote on Election Day that had nothing to do with who takes up residence in the White House, and the public came out the big winner. For the whole story, go here.