Too Much From Too Few

In this update: 1. Tiny corps of donors pour vast sums into elections 2. Walker says he’s for more disclosure of political money 3. NRA looms large in gun debate Too Much From Too Few

Email date: 1/3/13

In this update:
1. Tiny corps of donors pour vast sums into elections
2. Walker says he’s for more disclosure of political money
3. NRA looms large in gun debate

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Tiny corps of donors pour vast sums into elections
Campaign spending in Wisconsin elections has more than tripled since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case that opened the political money floodgates even wider. And the meter is still running, with reports due at the end of the month covering state legislative fundraising and spending in the final weeks before the November elections.

We’ve witnessed head-spinning spending of $81 million in last year’s election for governor, and close to $77 million spent in the U.S. Senate election, another record by a long shot. We also saw the most expensive U.S. House race in Wisconsin history, with over $8.8 million spent in the 7th congressional district spanning much of the northern part of the state.

Yet as our latest Big Money Blog points out, these astonishing sums of money are being supplied by an incredibly narrow segment of society. Barely 2% of the state’s adult population is doing all the political giving.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Who gives and how much would be changed dramatically by a small donor empowerment plan that the Democracy Campaign developed and has had drafted for introduction as proposed legislation. With the new year and a new legislative session upon us, the question now is which elected officials will champion it.

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Walker says he’s for more disclosure of political money
Governor Scott Walker obviously has no qualms about big donors shouldering the burden of paying for outrageously expensive elections. But in a year-end interview, the governor did not dispute that most people think there is way too much money in politics. And he said he supports better disclosure of political money. His words will matter when they are accompanied by concrete action. The aforementioned draft legislation contains model disclosure language that closes gaping loopholes in Wisconsin’s campaign finance transparency laws. Please take a minute to let Governor Walker know that there is no time like the present to modernize our state’s obsolete disclosure laws.

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NRA looms large in gun debate
Many political observers are speculating that the most recent horrific mass killing, this time with Connecticut elementary school children among the victims, will finally break the political logjam and lead to movement on gun control legislation. They may end up being right, but they just as likely are vastly underestimating one very important obstacle. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported the Democracy Campaign’s finding that the National Rifle Association sunk more than $815,000 into Governor Walker’s reelection. And on top of that, there’s the fact that the NRA single-handedly spent more on lobbying this past year than all gun control advocacy groups combined – by a factor of 10.