Email date: 9/12/12
In this update:
1. End Legal Bribery campaign takes to the streets with petition drive
2. What big donors want
3. Wearing what no longer fits
End Legal Bribery campaign takes to the streets with petition drive
An online petition went live today giving concerned citizens the opportunity to register their support for our new push to address the legal bribery that has grown up around the political process. You can add your voice to ours by signing online, and you also can print copies of the petition and help the drive by gathering signatures in your community.
What big donors want
In a story appearing in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reporter Steve Schultze wrote that our proposal to change the state’s conflict of interest law “would mean donations to the governor effectively would be trimmed to $5,000, to $500 for state senators and $250 for state Assembly members.”
The proposal does no such thing. No change is made to existing campaign contribution limits, and donors would remain free to make contributions within the current legal limits. What it does do is prevent major donors from buying votes on issues of interest to them. And it allows citizens to have confidence that decisions affecting them are not being made by state officials swayed by those who provide substantial financial support to their campaigns. It does these things by amending Wisconsin’s conflict of interest law to require officials to abstain from acting on matters of interest to major campaign supporters.
Schultze assumes that major donors would no longer make large contributions because they could no longer expect a return on their investment. Big-money contributors of every stripe have insisted for years that they make large donations to politicians who are generally supportive of their philosophy of government, and do not expect any specific actions benefiting them. Schultze assumes they have been lying all along and would curtail their giving if large donations were regarded under state law as creating a conflict of interest for the public officials receiving the money.
Maybe Schultze is right and wealthy donors have been blowing smoke all these years. If so, then we think it’s bloody well time to call their bluff. But in any case, Schultze’s article failed to accurately describe what our proposal would actually do, instead opting to base his characterization on an assumption of how major donors would respond.
Wearing what no longer fits
Wisconsin’s ethics laws are supposed to guard against government corruption, but those laws have grown obsolete and no longer offer the public much of any protection. As WDC’s director posted on our Big Money Blog yesterday, it’s like adults being forced to wear the clothes that fit them as children.