Email date: 8/7/13
In this update:
1. Money flows to party in power
2. West Bend senator seeks to drastically scale back donor disclosure
3. Democracy reformers from across nation to convene this weekend
Money flows to party in power
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin who control both houses of the legislature raised two and a half times more campaign money in the first half of the year than their Democratic counterparts, ballooning the size of their campaign accounts to three times that of the other side’s, a Democracy Campaign analysis issued this morning shows.
The money flowed in the first six months of 2013 while the state budget was being fashioned. An earlier WDC report in June flagged nearly three dozen items worth close to $1.7 billion benefiting special interest contributors who have given $33 million in campaign donations to Governor Scott Walker and Republican legislators in the last five years.
The story told by the latest campaign finance reports filed last month becomes even more revealing when compared to years past. In 2009 when the Democrats controlled both the state Assembly and Senate, Democratic legislators outraised Republicans by a wide margin. Goes to show that money flows to power. Also goes to show that big special interest donors don’t give out of an allegiance to a party or a preference for a particular governing philosophy. They give to those in a position to do them some good at the moment.
For more on our findings on legislative fundraising, listen to our latest podcast.
West Bend senator seeks to drastically scale back donor disclosure
Assistant Senate majority leader Glenn Grothman has tried before to curtail what is reported about the economic interests of campaign contributors, and he’s at it again. The West Bend Republican is introducing legislation that would gut Wisconsin’s campaign finance disclosure laws. Currently, the occupation and employer of any donor who gives more than $100 must be reported. Grothman tried unsuccessfully last session to raise the reporting threshold to $250, which would have had a devastating impact on campaign finance transparency. Grothman’s new legislation is even more extreme. Disclosure of only the occupation of any donor giving more than $500 would be required.
There are 862,064 contributions from individuals in the Democracy Campaign’s searchable online database. Of those donations, 825,827 or 96% are $500 or less. Contributions of more than $500 total 36,237. If Grothman’s new proposal had been state law all along, our database would be 96% smaller and would show the occupation but not the employer of each of the donors who made those 36,237 contributions.
Another of the effects of the Grothman proposal is that candidates for state Assembly would not have to disclose the occupations and employers of any of their contributors because the limit on donations to Assembly candidates is $500.
The Democracy Campaign believes Wisconsin needs to go in exactly the opposite direction, strengthening disclosure laws through bipartisan legislation like Senate Bill 166.
Grothman also is introducing legislation that would strictly limit early voting, something WDC also strongly opposes.
Democracy reformers from across nation to convene this weekend
The Democracy Campaign is among the conveners of the Democracy Convention being held from August 7 through August 11 in Madison. The convention is actually nine separate conferences, all under one roof. WDC director Mike McCabe is giving a keynote speech for the representative democracy conference on Saturday and also will take part in a panel discussion on Friday.