Fundraising Flood Hits New High-Water Mark

In this update: 1. Legislative candidates raise record cash 2. Connecticut finds a way out 3. TV’s felony forum 4. State cable bill creating "public affairs ghetto" Fundraising Flood Hits New High-Water Mark

Email date: 8/13/08

In this update:
1. Legislative candidates raise record cash
2. Connecticut finds a way out
3. TV’s felony forum
4. State cable bill creating "public affairs ghetto"

And the madness continues. . . . State legislative candidates are raising more campaign money than ever, with Democrats so far outsoliciting Republicans as both houses of the Legislature are up for grabs, a Democracy Campaign analysis released today shows.

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As Wisconsin’s politicians remain trapped in the mindless money chase, Connecticut is breaking free. That’s the subject of our latest Big Money Blog.

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Corruption scandals produced reform in Connecticut, but not in Wisconsin. The state’s leaders so far have gamely protected the status quo, with a generous assist from the dominant mainstream media - commercial broadcast television stations - that avoid stories about the role of money in politics like the plague. The reason is obvious . . . much of the campaign money is going to pay for TV ads and the stations have come to depend on that cash cow.

One of Wisconsin’s biggest TV stations is writing a new chapter in this sorry tale, starting what one letter-to-editor writer recently called a "political felony forum." It’s the subject of a blog we posted Monday.

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The Democracy Campaign opposed the cable deregulation legislation that was passed last session by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor after they were showered with money by the industry. We spoke out against it not only because we saw it as a giveaway to wealthy campaign donors but also because we thought it was bad for democracy.

Many who were cowed by the industry’s claims that the law would lead to more competition and lower rates pooh-poohed such concerns. What’s happening now in Eau Claire, as described in an editorial published recently in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, confirms that our worries were on the mark. The newspaper’s editorial page editor calls the changes underway in cable television there a "rip-off" and says the new cable law is creating a "public affairs ghetto" and "the long-term possibility of "the end of public access TV as we know it."

Coming soon to a community near you . . . if it hasn’t already arrived. The Legislature and governor broke this, so they own it.