Rep. Sargent Pushes Campaign Reform

January 18, 2019

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

Earlier this week, Democrats in the State Assembly unveiled four urgent proposals for restoring clean and open government in Wisconsin.

First, they came out in favor of nonpartisan redistricting. We need to ban gerrymandering in Wisconsin, and we don’t need to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to do it. We can do it by statute.

Second, they proposed a state constitutional amendment to prohibit lame-duck power grabs like the ones that Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald just pulled.

Third, they proposed amending the state constitution to enshrine open records, and they’re offering a bill that would clarify that the open meetings law applies to the legislature.

And fourth, and crucially important, they proposed several key campaign finance reforms, including:

--banning corporate donations to political parties and legislative campaign committees (in 2015, the legislature, for the first time in 100 years, allowed this)

--placing a ceiling on individual donations to political parties and legislative campaign committees (in 2015, the legislature tore down the ceiling so that the sky’s the limit)

--placing a ceiling on the amount of money that political parties and campaign committees can give to candidate committees

Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), who is introducing the campaign finance provisions, hit the nail on the head when she said, “For too long, powerful special interest groups and the wealthy few have had an overwhelming and growing influence on elections across Wisconsin and nationwide.” She noted that the principle of “one person, one vote” is central to our democracy.

“Yet,” she added, “the power and influence of money in our political system continues to threaten that cornerstone of our democracy, and to hold it at the mercy of the wealthy and corporations.”

And she noted that the campaign finance changes the Republican leaders and Scott Walker pushed through in 2015 came about “in spite of the will of the people, not because of it. Worst of all, the process was guided by the rich and powerful, rather than the ordinary people across Wisconsin.”

It’s time for the will of the ordinary people of Wisconsin to prevail.