Pigs At The Trough

In this update: 1. Special interests pig out on taxpayers' tab 2. WisconsinWatch analysis: Big donors get special access to governor 3. Pushing back against Citizens United 4. Thoughts about the recall Pigs At The Trough

Email date: 5/21/12

In this update:
1. Special interests pig out on taxpayers’ tab
2. WisconsinWatch analysis: Big donors get special access to governor
3. Pushing back against Citizens United
4. Thoughts about the recall

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Special interests pig out on taxpayers’ tab
Last year Wisconsin residents were told repeatedly that the state was broke and that extreme measures were needed to right the ship of state and balance the books. Wisconsinites were lectured about the need for “shared sacrifice” and warned of painful cuts to come. While most belts were being tightened a few notches, wealthy campaign donors who gave the governor and legislators nearly $24 million in campaign contributions were treated to a smorgasbord of perks and handouts.

A new Democracy Campaign study identifies dozens of items tucked in the state budget or approved as separate legislation providing over $330 million in benefits to these special interests. And, because lawmakers effectively put the cost of some of the favors on a credit card, creating a structural deficit in the state budget and committing future legislatures to pay for the giveaways, the cost will grow to nearly $440 million by 2020.

For more on our findings, check out our podcast.

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WisconsinWatch analysis: Big donors get special access to governor
There’s a reason why there always seems to be enough money for lavish perks for a few even when everyone else is being told the state is broke. And there’s a reason why a few are never expected to share in any “shared sacrifice” that tough times demand. That reason is spelled out plainly in the last of a three-part series of articles by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism showing how big campaign donors get access to the governor that ordinary citizens cannot dream of having.

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Pushing back against Citizens United
The Democracy Campaign has joined with 13 other groups in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Montana’s plea to the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the state’s Corrupt Practices Act, a direct challenge to the high court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. WDC and its national allies are not alone in weighing in on the case on Montana’s behalf. Two senators, Arizona Republican John McCain and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, also have filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to rethink its decision in Citizens United.

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Thoughts about the recall
A front-page story in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel focuses on an analysis of out-of-state money in the recall election for governor that the Democracy Campaign did for the newspaper. Sunday’s Green Bay Press-Gazette featured a number of commentaries on the recall, including one from the Democracy Campaign’s director.