How Much Is the Democracy Campaign Worth?

We have been informed that the biggest funder of democracy work in the Great Lakes region is ending its support of the Democracy Campaign after a 16-year partnership. How Much Is the Democracy Campaign Worth?

Email date: 1/8/13

I won’t beat around the bush. We need your help.

There’s no candy-coating this news. This funding accounted for more than half of our income. It enabled us to create Wisconsin’s only online database of contributors to state campaigns and has allowed us to continue to maintain and expand this marvelous instrument of political transparency and accountability. You know, the one The Capital Times called “one of the best state-based money-tracking databases in the nation.” A great many others sing its praises too.

Now, unless this gaping hole that has been blown in our budget can be closed, there is the very real possibility that the people of Wisconsin will have to do without it.

In this post-Citizens United age of unlimited election spending and Super PACs and dark money, that is unthinkable. Now more than ever, the ability to follow the money is priceless.

Problem is, I now have no choice but to ask you to put a price tag on it.

How much is being able to see who is trying to buy off your elected representatives and take ownership of your government worth?

The Democracy Campaign starts with following the money, but we sure don’t stop there. When we see something sleazy or corrupt or illegal, we say so. We are watchdogs. When something is wrong, we bark.

How much is speaking truth to power worth?

Yes, we bark. We bite too. The Democracy Campaign assisted a media investigation that uncovered illegal campaign activity at the Capitol, and then we filed formal complaints that triggered a criminal investigation that led to the convictions of five of the state’s most powerful lawmakers, ended their political careers and landed several of them in jail.

We helped authorities crack shady campaign donation schemes that resulted in two business executives being found guilty of money laundering.

We filed the complaint that prompted an ethics probe that ended with a current member of our state’s highest court becoming the first Supreme Court justice to be found guilty of judicial misconduct.

How much is exposing wrongdoing and holding power accountable to the law worth?

The Democracy Campaign doesn’t just stand up to what’s wrong. We aim to make things right. We have fought for a long list of reforms. And we have won a few. More than a few, actually.

How much is Wisconsin’s leading voice of reform worth?

For all our efforts, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Society of Professional Journalists named the Democracy Campaign the “Citizen Openness Advocate of the Year” for 2012. In honoring WDC, the groups said: “No one has done more than this nonpartisan watchdog group to hold public officials accountable by demanding transparency, not only in campaign financing but in the operations of government, and no one has taken more heat for it, especially this year.”

It’s said that no good deed goes unpunished. Those words are hitting close to home right now.

I don’t know what the future holds. All I know is in the weeks and months to come we’ll do what we’ve always done. Stand and fight.

Like I said, we need your help.

If you believe in our cause, there are two things you can do right now to help. First, put a price tag on how much you think the Democracy Campaign is worth. Second, forward this message along to as many people as possible and ask them to do the same.

Thank you.


Mike McCabe