Monday October 19, 2020

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Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit political watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260

A Win for Disability Rights!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 10 June 2016
in Wisconsin

disability-oldMADISON - I’m all about celebrating our victories, whenever they occur.

And one just occurred yesterday when the Department of Health Services shelved its plan to let private insurance companies run the programs for the elderly and the disabled in Wisconsin. You can read all about it here:

A win for disability rights activists!

While I’m on the subject of people with disabilities, a report came out this week that noted some difficulties that they, too, were having with Voter ID:

Voters with disabilities in Wisconsin faced problems

This week we also reported on the Koch Brothers throwing their weight around down ticket in our state:

Koch group targets two Wisconsin State Senate seats

And Congressman Mark Pocan is focusing his sights on the dark money group that calls itself Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, though “reform” is the last thing this group is about. It ran nasty ads against Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Russ Feingold, and it was founded by the person who led the campaign to ban gay marriage in Wisconsin. Pocan has put donors to this group on notice:

Pocan warns donors to dark money group

I’m headed out for a brief vacation next week, so I’ll get back to you in a couple.

Meantime, please send us a tax-deductible gift by clicking here or by mailing it in the old-fashioned way to 203 S. Paterson St. Suite 100, Madison WI 53703.

We really appreciate your support.

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John Menard Exposed!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 04 June 2016
in Wisconsin

john-menard-jrMADISON - Our “Influence Peddler of the Month” is none other than John Menard Jr., owner of the hardware store chain and the richest man in Wisconsin. He’s not shy about throwing his money around in the Wisconsin political arena, as you’ll see in the following post:

Influence peddler of the month - John Menard, Jr.

And here’s an item that might interest you in a week when it was confirmed that Prince died of an opioid overdose: One group of Wisconsin chiropractors is lobbying the legislature to allow them to prescribe painkillers. Interestingly, another group of chiropractors opposes this. You can read about the split here:

Chiropractors split on proposal to let them prescribe painkillers

I’m still buzzing about last week’s federal court case on the rigging of our electoral maps. Final arguments took place late last Friday, and the plaintiffs’ lawyer did a masterful job, as I explain in this posting:

Why GOP map in Wisconsin may get shot down

By the way, if you’re going to the Farmers’ Market in Madison tomorrow, stop by our table across from the Inn on the Park. I’ll be there from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., so please say hi.

And in any event, I hope you enjoy the weekend!

P.S. Hey, if you liked that John Menard piece and if you appreciate the other work we do to expose the role of money in politics and to champion democracy, please send us a tax-deductible gift today by clicking here. Or mail it in the old-fashioned way to: 203 S. Paterson St., Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703. We really appreciate it!

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$42 Million Reasons Walker Goes Easy on Polluters

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 May 2016
in Wisconsin

walkerMADISON - One thing we like to do here at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is to amplify the work of other fine nonprofits and enterprising reporters.

This week offered us three opportunities to do just that.

When the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation came out with a report showing that the enforcement of DNR regulations was at a 30-year low, we showed all the money that polluters have given to Walker & Company:

(1) Walker has $42 million reasons to reduce pollution enforcement

And when our friends over at WisPIRG put out a report on payday lenders, showing that they’re charging a whopping 585 percent interest, we showed how  the payday lenders throw their money around.. Note: Walker and Majority Leader Fitzgerald and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee got the most, but two Democratic committees also got fat checks, as you’ll see here:

(2) Payday lenders gave $339K in Wisconsin for usury

And when Molly Beck at the Wisconsin State Journal revealed that a former Republican legislator got an $80 million contract from the Walker administration, we revealed the money trail here, too:

(3) Former GOP lawmaker and Walker contributor gets state testing contract

These are prime examples of how money is contaminating our politics in Wisconsin right now.

But I’m not pessimistic. I was in a federal courtroom this week in Madison hearing the powerful challenge to the Voter ID law brought by One Wisconsin Now. And next week, there’s another promising court challenge—this one, regarding the partisan manipulation of electoral maps. The lawsuit establishes a nonpartisan yardstick for measuring whether one party is taking undue advantage over another in the drawing of district maps.

I believe we’re going to win both of these cases, which will start giving democracy a chance again in Wisconsin.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director

P.S. Please support this urgent work we’re doing by sending us a tax-deductible gift today. Simply click here. We really appreciate it!

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On John Doe, DAs Deserve Our Thanks!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 01 May 2016
in Wisconsin

john-chisolmMADISON - The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign thanks the courageous district attorneys John Chisholm, Ismael Ozanne, and Larry Nelson for appealing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in the John Doe II case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

While the details of their appeal have not been made public yet, there are two solid grounds for the appeal.

The first is that at least a couple of the justices should have recused themselves from the John Doe case because of a conflict of interest.

The four justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who dismissed the John Doe investigation concerning alleged coordination between Scott Walker and so-called outside groups were aided enormously by some of the very groups that were party to the John Doe case.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America—all of which were reportedly embroiled in the John Doe--together spent more than $8 million in support of Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Annette Ziegler, Justice Michael Gableman, and Justice David Prosser.

ismael-ozanne-daThe second, and even more crucial, basis for an appeal is the fact that the Wisconsin Supreme Court blatantly misread forty years of U.S. Supreme Court precedent on campaign finance.

In tossing out the John Doe II case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that the First Amendment prohibits the state of Wisconsin from imposing a ban on coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups. But dating back to Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 and right on through Citizens United of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court campaign finance decisions have been predicated on there being no coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups.

In Buckley, the court ruled that expenditures by outside groups that are coordinated with candidates amount to campaign contributions. “The ultimate effect is the same as if the person had contributed the dollar amount to the candidate and the candidate had then used the contribution,” the court ruled. Such expenditures, it said, should be “treated as contributions rather than expenditures.”

Only the lack of coordination reduces the risk of corruption, the Court stressed in Buckley. “The absence of prearrangement and coordination of an expenditure with the candidate or his agent . . . alleviates the danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidates.”

larry-nelson-daEven in its infamous Citizens United decision, which allowed independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money, the U.S Supreme Court stressed that such groups had to be independent; they couldn’t coordinate with their favored candidates: “By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that line. He will be the crucial vote in this case, assuming that the U.S. Supreme Court hears it. And if Justice Kennedy stands by his own reasoning in Citizens United, the district attorneys have an excellent chance of prevailing and getting the John Doe II decision overturned.

That would be a tremendous outcome because unless the John Doe II decision is overturned, we will have little hope in Wisconsin of limiting the corrupting influence of dark money over our politics.

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Prisoners and the Right to Vote

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 15 April 2016
in Wisconsin

jail-prisonMADISON - On Tuesday, I went to UW-Milwaukee to give a lecture about an under-appreciated aspect of our undemocratic system: the disenfranchisement of prisoners and former prisoners. In researching this talk, I discovered just how blatantly racist the policy has always been:

Felon disenfranchisement, then and now

In our never-ending sorrow at the demise of the Government Accountability Board, our worst fears have been confirmed: Partisans from both sides are being appointed to the new state ethics and elections commissions. This week, it was Peter Barca’s turn:

Barca’s appointees contributed $107K to Democrats

And as we look back at the legislative session, one hypocrisy jumped out at us. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce talks all the time about the need for a highly educated workforce, but it didn’t put any of its money where its mouth is:

WMC, business groups AWOL on higher ed bills

Two announcements:

--If you’re in Madison at the Dane County Farmers' Market on Saturday, please stop by our booth at the southwest corner of the Square (W Main and S Hamilton Sts. across from Inn on the Park). I’ll be there with Madison activist Bert Zipperer from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. {Reminder: there is road construction on the northside of the Square}

--And if you’re in the Sun Prairie area Saturday afternoon, the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) will host a public meeting from 12-3 pm at the Westside Community Service Building at 2598 W. Main St. I'll be speaking around 2 p.m. Topic: “The Assault on Democracy in Wisconsin” (or, “Where Do I Start?”).

Hope to see you soon.

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