Legislative Candidate Pledge 2002

Letter asking legislative candidates in 2002 to support election reform. Clean Sweep Pledge 2002

Legislative Candidates

July 29, 2002

1. If elected, I will work to see that comprehensive campaign finance reforms are in place for the 2004 election and that new restrictions on campaign fundraising are in effect for the entire 2003-2004 legislative session. Specifically, I will publicly endorse, actively work to advance and vote for comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation as strong or stronger than 2001 Senate Bill 104 that:

a) Creates spending limits for all state races (for example, $2 million for governor, $100,000 for senate and $50,000 for assembly) that sharply reduce campaign spending in the highest-spending races and level the playing field for all candidates.

b) Provides public financing grants equal to at least 45% of the spending limits to candidates who agree to limit their spending.

c) Provides a guaranteed source of revenue that fully funds the cost of the public financing system and prevents the grants promised to candidates under the law from being prorated or denied.

d )Provides matching grants directly to candidates who agree to limit their spending but who face opponents who refuse to abide by spending limits or who have independent campaigns run against them by special interest groups. (The campaign reform plan included in the budget repair bill provides funds for matching grants to the state political parties rather than to individual candidates.)

e )Bans campaign fundraising by elected state officials during the state budget process and prohibits campaign fundraisers in Dane County any time the legislature is in session.

f) Includes an explicit legal prohibition on "pay to play" activity (trading official action or inaction for campaign donations).

g) Cuts the limits on the size of allowable campaign contributions in half and further reduces the contribution limits for candidates who do not agree to abide by campaign spending limits.

h) Requires disclosure of the identity of groups that run "issue ads" within 60 days of an election that refer to a clearly identified candidate on the ballot in that election, and reporting of the amount spent and the source of money used to pay for the communications for or against the candidate.

i) Bases disclosure of issue ads and other forms of independent campaigns by special interest groups on the established legal tradition in Wisconsin requiring campaign activities to be reported when money is spent or an obligation to spend money is incurred. (The campaign finance plan in the budget repair bill requires advance reporting of planned activities, which unnecessarily exposes it to the risk of being overturned in court.)

j) Eliminates the partisan legislative campaign committees under the control of legislative leaders.

k) Prevents the creation of "SuperPACs" by banning transfers of funds from one political action committee (PAC) to another.

l) Includes at least limited "severability" so that if one element of the bill is found unconstitutional, other reform provisions will remain in effect. (The plan included in the budget repair bill is completely nonseverable; in other words, if one provision is found unconstitutional, the entire law is void.)

2. If elected, I will publicly endorse, actively work to advance and vote for reforms of the structure of the state Elections Board that replace the current board with a nonpartisan citizen board and that provide the board with the resources to investigate possible violations and enforce Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws (specifically, a campaign finance investigator position and an auditor position).

3. If elected, I will work to block the use of public funds to pay the legal fees of any legislator or legislative employee who is under criminal investigation or has been criminally charged.

4. The partisan legislative caucus offices have been abolished. If elected, I will work to eliminate all former caucus staff positions that have been retained.

5. Currently, the state Ethics Board does not have a budget for investigation expenses and must seek funding from the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance each time it contemplates an ethics investigation. If elected, I will work to create an independent source of funding for ethics investigations.

6. If elected, I will work to strengthen the state ethics code and lobbying law to: 1) bolster the Ethics Board’s enforcement powers; 2) curb the effects of campaign contributions from lobbyists and the organizations the lobbyists represent; 3) raise standards of conduct expected of state and local government officials; 4) strengthen lobbying laws; and 5) enhance requirements that government officials identify personal financial interests that might conflict with their government responsibilities. (A description of the 58 specific recommendations made to the Governor’s Task Force on Ethics Reform in Government is available on the Ethics Board web site in pdf format.

7. If elected, I will work to create a nonpartisan citizen commission to reapportion legislative and congressional districts in Wisconsin and will oppose the use of public funds to retain private attorneys to represent the interests of a particular partisan legislative caucus or lawmaker during the redistricting process?

Governor’s Pledge Letter Press Release