Games Politicians Play

In this update: 1. Republicans stack the deck on redistricting 2. Show us the money Games Politicians Play

Email date: 1/6/11

In this update:
1. Republicans stack the deck on redistricting
2. Show us the money

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Republicans stack the deck on redistricting
So much for bipartisanship. And so much for fiscal restraint. Legislative Republicans wrote themselves a blank check this week to pay for a stable of pricey private attorneys at the taxpayer’s expense to assist them in redrawing legislative and congressional district lines, but denied their Democratic counterparts similar legal help. For more on this, go here and here.

It’s hard to feel sorry for the Democrats because while they now say nonpartisan legislative attorneys should handle redistricting, they failed to adopt such a policy when they were in control of the legislature and governor’s office. As recently as late November, the Democracy Campaign was calling on them to convene in special session to take the politics out of redistricting by passing a law similar to Iowa’s.

Deserving of sympathy are voters and taxpayers. The highly partisan way state politicians approach redistricting ends up leaving voters with less competitive elections and fewer choices on the ballot. And taxpayers are left with a huge bill. In the last round of redistricting after the 2000 census, Wisconsin taxpayers were on the hook for nearly $3 million in expenses for outside lawyers, political consultants and map-drawing technology. In Iowa, redistricting costs nothing extra as in-house attorneys on the staff of a legislative service agency do the work as part of their normal duties within the agency’s regular annual budget.

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Show us the money
Let’s start with a basic assumption. Voters have a right to know who is trying to influence elections. By that measure, Wisconsin is failing. Our state’s campaign finance disclosure system is a wreck. Read more....

Wisconsin is not alone in seeing huge sums of money pour in from anonymous sources to pay for misleading or untruthful campaign advertising. What we found in elections for governor and state legislature also happened in federal elections across the country, including congressional races here in Wisconsin.