Comments at the press conference held in the Capitol on June 7, 2017
I’d like to thank Sen. Larson for having the foresight to take the lead on this crucial issue for our democracy. The eight proposals in his Campaign Integrity Package - Senate Bills 352 throug 358 -- would go a long way toward rectifying the disaster that occurred in November 2015 in this building when Republicans in the legislature totally rewrote our campaign finance law, which is called Chapter 11, and which now is actually bankrupting our democracy.
Gov. Walker’s slogan is “Wisconsin Open for Business.” But this law, which he signed, made Wisconsin open for bribery as never before. It turned Wisconsin politics more and more into a playground for corporations, the dark money groups, and the very rich, a playground that is essentially fenced off to the rest of us.
It did this by:
--doubling the amount of money that rich individuals could give to candidates
--putting no limit whatsoever on what rich individuals can give to political parties
--allowing corporations for the first time in more than 100 years to give directly to political parties
--legalizing coordination with issue advocacy groups and defining coordination so narrowly that candidates can now coordinate, with a wink and nod, even with express advocacy groups.
Senator Larson’s proposals would undo the damage on all these fronts.
Another key proposal by Sen. Larson would lift the veil on the dark money groups that are splattering our screens with mud. We should know who’s paying for that mud, and one of Sen. Larson’s proposals would do that just, forcing these dark money groups to disclose the name of anyone who gives them $100 or more.
Sen. Larson’s proposals offer other reforms that are necessary for transparency and openness, like requiring donors to list their employer’s names, as they used to have to, and requiring all PACs to register with the state, not just PACs that spend 50% or more of their money here.
Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit watchdog in Madison that advocates for clean and open government.