Email date: 6/7/11
In this update:
1. WDC blows whistle on 3 senators for failing to properly disclose donations
2. Butt-ugly budget politics
3. Redistricting rumor raises concern
WDC blows whistle on 3 senators for failing to properly disclose donations
The Democracy Campaign this morning filed complaints against three state senators for failing to provide required occupation and employer information about campaign contributors who gave them more than $50,000. To read more, go here.
For audio commentary on today’s action, go here.
Butt-ugly budget politics
The budget that is moving toward final passage in both houses of the Legislature has been loaded with tax changes that can best be described as Robin Hood in reverse. That’s not the only way it has been crafted to please the biggest campaign donors. There are huge cuts in funding for education, but big funding increases for road building. Another bone majority Republicans threw to the powerful road building industry even prompted one of their own to express disgust.
There’s a gift in the budget for MillerCoors, liquor distributors, the state’s mighty tavern industry, convenience store owners and grocers that has microbrewers up in arms. Our latest Big Money Blog has more on this.
Lawmakers also did a favor to AT&T and other telecoms that, if ultimately enacted, will result in the state throwing away close to $40 million in federal grant funds for expansion of broadband access.
Then of course there is the raid on the state’s clean elections fund to pay for implementation of the new vote-suppressing law requiring citizens to have a state-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Dave Zweifel of The Capital Times wrote about that budget action in a recent column.
Perhaps anticipating that their naked pandering to wealthy special interests will lead to greater public curiosity about possible financial conflicts of interest, budget writers added a provision that further limits public access to information about the finances of state officials. It would require anyone wishing to inspect or copy the statements of economic interest filed by more than 2,100 state officials, including legislators, to travel to the state Government Accountability Board’s office in Madison.
If this outrageous attack on the public’s right to know survives the rest of the budget process, it will make an already bad situation even worse. Under current law, Wisconsin restricts access to officials’ economic interest statements more than most states, requiring citizens requesting these public records to identify themselves and sharing their identities with the officials who filed the statements. That law has had a chilling effect on public requests for the information and has prevented the state from posting the records online.
Redistricting rumor raises concern
To many watching Wisconsin politics over recent months, it may seem impossible to believe that those in charge at the Capitol could conceivably do more to grab power than they already have. But redistricting looms on the horizon. A recent Big Money Blog focused on that.
Sources at the Capitol say there are plans to insert a redistricting plan into the state budget at the last minute. That prospect drew a response from the citizen group Make Our Votes Count today. To add your name to the list of people supporting this effort to shine light on the process of drawing district lines and build support for reforms establishing nonpartisan redistricting, go here.