“Absolutely the Wrong Way to Go. It Would Reduce Citizens to Mere Spectators.”
October 8, 2015
Madison – A good government group denounced the Republican campaign finance bill draft that was just unveiled in the State Capitol in Madison.
“It’s absolutely the wrong way to go,” said Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “It would reduce Wisconsin citizens to mere spectators in the political arena.”
The legislation increases the amount that individuals may donate and loosens the rules on disclosure. “This means that big money would dominate our political system even more than it does now,” Rothschild said. “The voice of the average citizen would be drowned out.”
“With this bill, we’re no longer in the land of one person, one vote,” Rothschild said. “We’re now in the land of the fat cats, who have a lot more say than all of us mice put together.”
Until last year, Wisconsin had a $10,000 limit on contributions to political parties, Rothschild noted. “Now this bill says the sky’s the limit,” Rothschild said. “As a result, the billionaires and multimillionaires will have an outsized influence over who gets elected. In fact, political contests will now be less between candidates and more between tycoons.”
The bill also fails to include an obligation for outside groups that run so-called issue ads at election time to disclose their donors.
“It’s outrageous that the Republicans won’t let us, as citizens, find out who is behind the mudslinging that splatters our TV sets every campaign season,” Rothschild said. “That even goes against the plea of arch-conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.”
In Doe v. Reed in 2010, Scalia wrote: “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.” He lampooned those who “anonymously” try to influence the outcome of an election, “hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave."
“Astonishingly, the Wisconsin GOP of today is to the right of Antonin Scalia,” Rothschild said.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is a nonpartisan political watchdog that tracks money in state politics and believes that every citizen’s voice should be heard and every citizen’s vote should be counted.