Tomorrow: Wisconsin to Protest Citizens United v. FEC

In this update: 1. March to Overrule the Court - NOON TOMORROW 2. Assembly to act on watered-down payday loan bill 3. Bill giving localities option to reform campaign finances to get hearing 4. Money looms large in race for governor Tomorrow: Wisconsin to Protest Citizens United v. FEC

Email date: 2/15/10

In this update:
1. March to Overrule the Court - NOON TOMORROW
2. Assembly to act on watered-down payday loan bill
3. Bill giving localities option to reform campaign finances to get hearing
4. Money looms large in race for governor

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March to Overrule the Court - NOON TOMORROW
The Democracy Campaign has four goals for tomorrow’s protest of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on election financing. First is to speak out forcefully in opposition to the court’s assault on our democracy and make sure that the ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is not the last word on the subject. The second aim is to send a strong message to state lawmakers that the ball is now in their court and a strong legislative response is needed. To that end, we will be asking all in attendance tomorrow to sign and deliver statements to members of the state Senate and Assembly calling for action on legislation removing the cloak from special interest sponsors of campaign advertising and making them stand by their ads.

Our third goal is to build support for and momentum behind the push to amend the U.S. Constitution to overrule the current majority on the Supreme Court on campaign financing. And last but certainly not least is to inspire others elsewhere to join the counteroffensive against the court ruling and make tomorrow’s march at the State Capitol the first in a series of demonstrations nationally.

We hope you can join us tomorrow. Bring a bell to ring, both in alarm at what the Supreme Court has wrought and in celebration of free speech, freedom of assembly and the promise of democracy. And bring a friend or two or five.

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Assembly to act on watered-down payday loan bill
When people from all over the state are gathering outside on the front steps of the Capitol to demand action to preserve the ability of ordinary citizens to have a voice in their government, members of the state Assembly will be meeting inside to decide what to do, if anything, about legalized loan sharking in Wisconsin. A small army of lobbyists, including one who has dated the Assembly speaker, have been working to kill or at least weaken legislation regulating the payday loan industry, and the lobbying effort has been supplemented by campaign donations from the industry that the Democracy Campaign has been tracking. At least as of now, the industry appears to be winning. The legislation the Assembly will be taking up is weak tea, indeed. And we’re not the only ones who think so.

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Bill giving localities option to reform campaign finances to get hearing
An Assembly committee will be holding a public hearing Wednesday on a legislative proposal giving local communities the authority to create local elections boards and regulate the financing of campaigns for county, city, town and village offices. Currently, local elections are subject to state campaign finance laws. The Democracy Campaign supports this local option initiative and believes in the potential of forward-looking communities to foster innovation in an area where state and federal policymakers have so repeatedly proven incapable of uprooting the corrupt status quo.

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Money looms large in race for governor
In 1998, a total of $8 million was spent electing a governor in Wisconsin. Four years later, the price tag on the office nearly tripled, with total spending in 2002 in the neighborhood of $23 million. The next and latest contest for the state’s highest office in 2006 saw even more money flow, with the spending tally exceeding $32 million.

If that upward trajectory is any indication of what might be in store for us in 2010, it’s not at all hard to imagine $40 million to $50 million being spent on this year’s race for governor. Or even more. Considering that this is the first open race for governor in 28 years and considering that the U.S. Supreme Court just gave corporations and labor unions the ability to spend even more freely on elections, the sky’s the limit. For more on how the contest is shaping up, check out the lengthy article that appeared over the weekend in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.