Supreme Court Out of Step with America

In this update: 1. Public overwhelmingly opposes Supreme Court election finance ruling 2. Sour economy no deterrent to lobbying trade 3. PAC contributions updated on wisdc.org 4. Small reforms edging forward 5. PBS focuses on corruption of judicial elections Supreme Court Out of Step with America

Email date: 2/22/10

In this update:
1. Public overwhelmingly opposes Supreme Court election finance ruling
2. Sour economy no deterrent to lobbying trade
3. PAC contributions updated on wisdc.org
4. Small reforms edging forward
5. PBS focuses on corruption of judicial elections

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Public overwhelmingly opposes Supreme Court election finance ruling
When hundreds of Wisconsinites stood out in the cold last week to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing corporations to spend as much as they want to influence elections, the message delivered was in line with what Americans across the political spectrum believe.

As we point out in our latest Big Money Blog, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows eight in 10 Americans oppose the high court’s January 21 decision to allow unlimited corporate political spending, with 65% “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed legislative action to curb the ruling, with 72% in favor of reinstating limits.

Opposition cuts across party lines, with 85% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans and 81% of independents opposed to the ruling.

Support for reinstatement of limits on corporate and union spending on elections also is strong across the political spectrum, with 77% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans and independents favoring such legislative action.

After last week’s rally at the State Capitol, participants visited their legislators’ offices to deliver messages calling for action on Democracy Campaign-backed reform legislation to help counteract the damage done by the Supreme Court ruling. You can deliver the message too by going here.

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Sour economy no deterrent to lobbying trade
Further proof that the political economy is recession-proof was provided in a report released today showing lobbying spending in 2009 by groups trying to influence state government. Spending topped $36 million, up 5.2% over the comparable period in the previous legislative session.

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PAC contributions updated on wisdc.org
The Democracy Campaign’s compilation of campaign contributions from political action committees (PACs) has been updated through the end of 2009. To see the latest numbers for PAC donations, go here.

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Small reforms edging forward
On a voice vote, the state Assembly last week passed a Democracy Campaign-supported bill to require out-of-state political committees to follow the same reporting requirements as in-state campaign committees. This attempt to toughen disclosure laws to ensure that the public can see the true origins of the money used to influence elections has had a strange journey, to say the least. It was passed and signed into law two sessions ago, then mysteriously removed from the state statutes, and we’ve been trying ever since to get it reenacted.

Another reform proposal the Democracy Campaign favors is up for a vote this week in an Assembly committee. AB 619 would allow local communities to experiment with campaign finance reforms. Currently, local governments must follow state campaign finance laws.

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PBS focuses on corruption of judicial elections
If you didn’t see the excellent program on Bill Moyers Journal on how campaign cash is corrupting America’s courts, it is well worth watching. Check it out and pass along the link.