Chapter 11 for Politicians

In this update: 1. WDC brings to light Walker legal defense fund payments to out-of-state PR firm 2. Updates made to donor databases and Recall 2012 feature on wisdc.org 3. One thing most everyone agrees on . . . 4. . . . Except the politicians Chapter 11 for Politicians

Email date: 7/18/12

In this update:
1. WDC brings to light Walker legal defense fund payments to out-of-state PR firm
2. Updates made to donor databases and Recall 2012 feature on wisdc.org
3. One thing most everyone agrees on . . .
4. . . . Except the politicians

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WDC brings to light Walker legal defense fund payments to PR firm
Governor Scott Walker has steadfastly refused to say which of his campaign donors have agreed to allow him to transfer their contributions to a criminal defense fund the governor says he needs to enable him to cooperate with prosecutors conducting a secret probe that already has resulted in charges against several of Walker’s former aides and close associates. But the fund is in the news again because yesterday the Democracy Campaign found a document filed with the Internal Revenue Service showing that nearly $10,000 transferred from Walker’s campaign committee to the legal defense fund was used to pay one of the nation’s largest PR firms for “public relations” services.

WDC went public with the discovery because the payment for PR help is not in keeping with what the governor and his aides repeatedly claimed the legal fund was going to be used for.

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Updates made to donor databases and Recall 2012 feature on wisdc.org
Over the weekend the Democracy Campaign updated our PAC database with the latest donations from interest group committees to recall election candidates, and also added new records of contributions to recall candidates from individuals to our searchable online database. At the same time the Recall 2012 feature on our website was updated to reflect recent activity reported in post-election filings by recall candidates.

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One thing most everyone agrees on . . .
One survey after another by scholars, media organizations, legal experts and public opinion researchers show that a supermajority of Americans of every political stripe and every ideological leaning agree that the Citizens United case was wrongly decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, that there is too much money in elections and that corruption is a big problem and getting bigger. At a moment when sharp divisions on many issues are on prominent display and the political landscape seems more polarized than at any time in living memory, self-described Republicans, Democrats and independents and those who consider themselves liberal, conservative and moderate are in agreement about the poisonous effects of money in politics.

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. . . Except the politicians
Despite the broad public consensus in opposition to the Citizens United ruling and in support of greater disclosure and more restrictions on money in election campaigns, elected representatives of the people in Congress have so far succeeded in stonewalling the Disclose Act, which aims to give citizens a better look at the money flooding federal elections.

The Democracy Campaign was one of 38 civic and investor groups that signed a letter sent to members of the House in April and to members of the Senate in May supporting the Disclose Act.

Today’s opponents of disclosure once vigorously championed it. They argued there was no need for limits, only disclosure. Let the money flow, they said, but disclose everything. Now that the money is flowing more freely than ever, they don’t want disclosure either. If there were a chapter 11 for politicians, this would amount to filing for moral bankruptcy.

Resistance to reforms reining in money in politics runs similarly high at the State Capitol. Yesterday there was a ceremonial transfer of power in the Senate after the outcome of recall elections gave the Democrats a one-seat majority in the upper house. But so far neither side is showing any signs of responding favorably to the call put out by the Democracy Campaign and 19 other citizen groups for immediate hearings and then a special session to take action on five modest reforms aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability in state elections. As WDC’s director told the Wisconsin Radio Network, “this is one place where legislators could find common ground if they can bring themselves to stand up to their big donors.”