Paying for Political Dysfunction

In this update: 1. Taxpayers billed over $2 million to diminish their own political influence 2. Legislative majority still angling for voter ID law 3. Playing games with elections and ethics oversight Paying for Political Dysfunction

Email date: 11/6/13

In this update:
1. Taxpayers billed over $2 million to diminish their own political influence
2. Legislative majority still angling for voter ID law
3. Playing games with elections and ethics oversight

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Taxpayers billed over $2 million to diminish their own political influence
We couldn’t agree more with the editorial appearing in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal. The newspaper points out that the politicians who currently control Wisconsin’s legislature have stuck state taxpayers with a bill totaling $2.1 million to pay lawyers to help design and then legally defend ridiculously gerrymandered political district maps.

Quoting from the editorial: “And what did the public get for the GOP’s big-spending ways? Rigged legislative and congressional district maps that favor Republicans in the few remaining competitive districts. More entrenched Republican and Democratic incumbents in seats that are no longer competitive. A more polarized Congress with less reason to compromise. In other words, taxpayers got worse than nothing for their $2.1 million. They get less choice at the polls for a decade of elections and, consequently, less influence with their political leaders.”

Legislative leaders continue to stubbornly refuse to hold public hearings on Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185, which would establish a nonpartisan, politically independent approach to redistricting modeled after the system in Iowa.

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Legislative majority still angling for voter ID law
Minority witnesses testified this week at a federal hearing about the hardships they’ve encountered in Wisconsin when trying to obtain a state-issued photo ID card in order to vote. The federal trial dealing with Wisconsin’s voter ID law is just beginning, but Republicans who currently control both houses of the legislature must be able to read the handwriting on the wall. They are not waiting for a ruling. Rather, they have drafted new legislation and are holding a hearing on it today. They say their new bill is modeled after the law in Indiana, which was ruled constitutional.

Problem is, the judge who wrote that decision now says he was mistaken. He says if he knew then what he knows now, he would have ruled differently. The new evidence that has come to his attention convinced him that the Indiana law’s aim is voter suppression, not fraud prevention.

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Playing games with elections and ethics oversight
Concerns about ongoing political meddling in the affairs of the state Government Accountability Board surfaced again this week when Governor Scott Walker abruptly withdrew his nomination of the former judge and onetime Republican lawmaker who led the nonpartisan election agency during the 2012 recall elections. After taking the action, Walker instead nominated another retired judge who is one of his campaign contributors.