Exposing the Sham in Sham Issue Ads

In this update: 1. New report "Justice for Just Us" exposes interest group con game 2. Lobbying groups gearing up for legislative elections 3. The seeds of partisan gridlock Exposing the Sham in Sham Issue Ads

Email date: 8/20/08

In this update:
1. New report "Justice for Just Us" exposes interest group con game
2. Lobbying groups gearing up for legislative elections
3. The seeds of partisan gridlock

Wisconsin once had campaign finance disclosure laws and contributions limits that were among the strongest in the nation. Those laws now aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re written on because interest groups are able to easily get around them by engaging in what they call "issue advocacy" even though their advocacy has little or nothing to do with the issues they are actually working on.

A new Democracy Campaign report, "Justice for Just Us," shows how five groups played this deceptive game in the last two state Supreme Court races.

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The lobbying groups and phony front organizations that spent close to $8 million deceiving voters in the 2007 and 2008 Supreme Court races are now shifting their attention to the state Legislature. An article in The Capital Times focuses in on one of them in particular.

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As an editorial in Monday’s Washington Post points out, partisan gridlock has become a prominent feature of the American political landscape. People complain about it, but few give much thought to what’s behind it. After pondering it, the Post came to the same conclusion the Democracy Campaign’s director did in a 2004 commentary.

The impact of redistricting is little known and little discussed. It’s time that changed. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s Law School has put out a wonderful owner’s manual for anyone interested in understanding the ins and outs of redistricting. It’s a good place to start.