August 13, 2015
A new study by the Sunlight Foundation gives Wisconsin an “A” in transparency about lobbying.
The study placed Wisconsin in the top five states in the country.
This report card provides strong backing for the job that the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, currently under assault, has been doing.
The report judged the states on their performance in five areas, which it delineated as follows:
- Lobbyist Activity: Do lobbyists have to reveal which pieces of legislation or executive actions they are seeking to influence?
- Expenditure Transparency: Are lobbyists required to itemize all the expenses associated with their work, such as travel, holding an event, or buying gifts for lawmakers?
- Expenditure Reporting Thresholds: Does the state require lobbyists to include all expenses in reports, or only those above a certain amount?
- Document Accessibility: In order to know whether the state could be making more information publicly available, it's important to know what information they collect. Can the public access lobbyist registration and expenditure forms?
- Lobbyist Compensation: Does the state mandate that lobbyists disclose how much they receive from a client?
Massachusetts and South Carolina tied for first with the highest marks, followed by a three-way tie between New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and other powerful Republicans in the legislature have been waging a verbal war against the Government Accountability Board in recent months. The GAB is responsible for overseeing lobbying, ethics, elections, and campaign finance issues.
This report by the Sunlight Foundation bolsters the GAB’s case that it is doing an excellent job.
The Sunlight Foundation defines itself as “a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all.”