Rich Got Richer in 2012 Legislative Elections

In this update: 1. Money flowed to power in state legislative elections 2. One thing the 19th and 21st centuries have in common 3. Cost of ending election day registration keeps climbing 4. Assembly turns back clock, restores budget-season shakedowns 5. Today is election day Rich Got Richer in 2012 Legislative Elections

Email date: 2/19/13

In this update:
1. Money flowed to power in state legislative elections
2. One thing the 19th and 21st centuries have in common
3. Cost of ending election day registration keeps climbing
4. Assembly turns back clock, restores budget-season shakedowns
5. Today is election day

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Money flowed to power in state legislative elections
A Democracy Campaign analysis issued this morning shows more than $16.5 million was spent on last fall’s state legislative elections. Not surprisingly, incumbents spent twice as much as challengers and winning candidates outspent their opponents by 85%. Special interest groups favoring Republicans doubled the spending of Democratic groups. When spending totals by candidates and interest groups are combined, Republicans who control the majority of seats in the Legislature had over $3 million more spent on their behalf than Democrats.

For more on our findings, check out our podcast.

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One thing the 19th and 21st centuries have in common
The latest addition to our Big Money Blog tells of a crusading 19th Century newspaperman who made a huge difference in shaping Wisconsin’s political destiny. If he could come back today, he would find the condition of our democracy to be mighty familiar.

Posting on our blog last Friday, WDC’s director wrote: “Year after year, wealthy school privatization backers shower campaign support on Wisconsin officials, and darned if public school budgets don’t get shaved and more and more public money gets steered to expanded private school voucher programs.” As if on cue, Governor Scott Walker this week proposed another expansion of school privatization.

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Cost of ending election day registration keeps climbing
Both the governor and legislative leaders have been toying with the idea of doing away with Wisconsin’s policy of allowing eligible voters to register on the day of an election. An earlier estimate by the state Government Accountability Board put the cost to state taxpayers of eliminating election day registration at just over $5 million. Now a more thorough analysis of the many impacts of repealing same-day registration shows the price tag could run as high as $14.5 million to make it more difficult to vote in Wisconsin.

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Assembly turns back clock, restores budget-season shakedowns
Republicans who control the state Assembly voted by paper ballot rather than convening in public when they did away with a rule banning campaign fundraising while the state budget is being put together. The La Crosse Tribune was not impressed.

The Democracy Campaign worked to get the Assembly rule approved in 2009, and has long supported a law that would apply the prohibition on fundraising during the budget process to both houses of the Legislature as well as the governor.

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Today is election day
Remember that today is election day. Along with assorted local primary elections, voters will be narrowing the field of state Supreme Court candidates from three to two. And if you haven’t already signed our petition calling for a statewide vote on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, please take a minute to send legislators a message that voters should be given an opportunity to have their say on the havoc the ruling has wreaked by unleashing unlimited election spending, breeding special interest Super PACs and giving rise to dark money by rendering disclosure laws obsolete.