Corporate Election Spending Reform on the Move

In this update: 1. Senate committee to vote on corporate election spending reform 2. Judge invites reform groups to participate as “friend of court” in federal cases 3. Remembering Granny D Corporate Election Spending Reform on the Move

Email date: 3/12/10

In this update:
1. Senate committee to vote on corporate election spending reform
2. Judge invites reform groups to participate as “friend of court” in federal cases
3. Remembering Granny D

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Senate committee to vote on corporate election spending reform
The Democracy Campaign’s director testified at a Senate committee hearing Wednesday in support of proposed legislation requiring corporations to get permission from shareholders to use their money for political campaigning. The corporate governance reform measure is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s January ruling that corporations may spend unlimited sums of money on elections.

The legislation has been scheduled for a vote in the committee next Tuesday.

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Reform groups invited to serve as ‘friend of court’ in federal cases
In early February the Democracy Campaign joined with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Common Cause in Wisconsin in petitioning the United States District Court to formally intervene as defendants against two federal lawsuits challenging Wisconsin’s new law creating publicly financed state Supreme Court elections.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb yesterday denied our motion to join the cases as intervening defendants but granted our alternative request to participate as amicus curiae or “friend of the court.” Judge Crabb recognized “the experience the proposed intervenors have to offer” and wrote that there is ”no doubt that it will be valuable in resolving this case.“ By granting friend-of-the-court status, the court invites the three groups to submit briefs on issues involved in the cases.

Weeks after the Legislature passed the Impartial Justice bill and Governor Jim Doyle signed it into law, the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life filed a lawsuit seeking to have a portion of the new law struck down. The group is being represented by James Bopp, an Indiana-based attorney and Republican National Committee member.

A few days after the WRTL suit was filed, a second lawsuit seeking to have the entire law overturned was filed by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Supreme Court in 2009. Koschnick is being assisted by the national Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia-based group devoted to campaign finance deregulation started by former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith.

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Remembering Granny D
The cause of democracy reform lost a treasured asset this week with the passing of Doris “Granny D” Haddock at the age of 100. The Democracy Campaign’s director posted some thoughts on our Big Money Blog when news of Granny’s death came on Wednesday, and shared some more fond memories yesterday, including a video of remarks Granny D made at a 2006 event WDC helped organize.