Legislative Fundraising WAY Up

In this update: 1. Recall elections drive record legislative fundraising in first half of 2011 2. Senator seeks to blind voters to economic interests of campaign donors 3. Lawmakers meddle in independent agency’s operations 4. How lines on a map undermine democracy 5. Supreme Court votes to play nice 6. Criminal probe draws nearer to Walker 7. When PolitiFact is not PolitiTruth Legislative Fundraising WAY Up

Email date: 10/4/11

In this update:
1. Recall elections drive record legislative fundraising in first half of 2011
2. Senator seeks to blind voters to economic interests of campaign donors
3. Lawmakers meddle in independent agency’s operations
4. How lines on a map undermine democracy
5. Supreme Court votes to play nice
6. Criminal probe draws nearer to Walker
7. When PolitiFact is not PolitiTruth

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Recall elections drive record legislative fundraising in first half of 2011
The Democracy Campaign issued a report today showing that state legislators raised $6.8 million during the first six months of the year, driven primarily by the fundraising of 12 lawmakers who were involved in this summer’s senate recall elections.

Legislators raked in seven times more campaign money than in the last comparable six-month period, and 325% more than the previous record for the first half of an odd-numbered year. The record haul also was 93% more than the first half of the 2010 election year, which is astonishing because there are typically more than 200 candidates raising money to fuel their campaigns in an even-numbered year.

A podcast posted this morning on wisdc.org provides audio commentary on our findings.

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Senator seeks to blind voters to economic interests of campaign donors
State senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend announced last week that he is introducing legislation that would end a crucial campaign finance disclosure requirement that contributors who give over $100 must disclose their occupation and employer. Grothman says the change is necessary to protect businesses from boycotts by angry voters.

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Lawmakers meddle in independent agency’s operations
Republicans who control both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature are taking steps to micromanage the way the state Government Accountability Board operates in hopes of giving Governor Scott Walker authority over recall petitions and maintaining strict control over how the state’s new law requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot is implemented.

The Sheboygan Press rightly questioned the meddling in a September 27 editorial, calling on lawmakers to show some consistency and look into questionable practices by the state Department of Transportation relating to the photo ID law if they are going to poke their noses into the GAB’s business. DOT’s chief instructed department staff not to tell people about the availability of free IDs unless they ask.

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How lines on a map undermine democracy
A flood of special interest money in elections has a crippling effect on democracy. So do voter suppression efforts. And a lack of transparency in government. But there are few things that do greater harm to democracy than the way lines get drawn on maps.

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Supreme Court votes to play nice
Members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week pledged to get along better. We were not impressed.

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Criminal probe draws nearer to Walker
As the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the front page of its Sunday paper, there are increasing indications that a secret criminal investigation is getting closer to Governor Walker.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News published a devastating article yesterday detailing the lawless actions of Koch Industries and the rest of the global business empire run by brothers Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are Governor Walker’s single biggest financial backers, having donated $43,000 directly to Walker’s campaign and $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million to help Walker get elected.

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When PolitiFact is not PolitiTruth
Facts and truth are not the same thing. Facts can be spliced together to tell the most outrageous lie. Michael Gableman demonstrated that. They also can be pieced together to protect the powerful and malign those who seek to shine light on the abuse of power. On Sunday a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter provided a vivid illustration of how it’s done.