Assembly Republicans Set to Usher In New Era of Corruption
October 19, 2015
MADISON – Today, Representative Lisa Subeck (D-78) gave the following remarks at a press conference regarding three Republican bills (AB 68, AB 387, and AB 388) that would usher in a new era of corruption in Wisconsin.
“This week, Republicans are poised to usher in a new era of corruption. Three dangerous bills will be considered this week by the State Assembly. The first bill exempts politicians from John Doe proceedings. The second bill dismantles the Government Accountability Board. Finally, there is a third bill, that we are here to focus on today, which radically rewrites our campaign finance laws.
Let me be clear: Any one of these bills alone is bad enough – but considered together, the Republicans have come up with the perfect trifecta to open the doors to a new era of corruption.
These bills are being rammed through at breakneck speed. We have had less than two weeks since introduction of the campaign finance bill, a mammoth bill that completely overhauls an entire chapter of current statutes, and will be voted on by the State Assembly this week. Democrats have been working around the clock to analyze the changes made by the Republican’s campaign finance proposal, and it is ugly.
One thing I never hear from constituents is that we need more corporate and big special interest money – and more undisclosed “dark money” - in politics. Nothing makes this clearer than the 59 local communities – both red and blue areas of the state – that have passed referendums and resolutions calling for an end to corporate spending in elections. These include:
- Waukesha, not exactly a liberal bastion, where 69% of voters favored getting corporate money out of politics
- Neenah, another conservative area of the state with 79% voting to get corporate money out
- West Allis, where the referendum passed with 70% approval
- Delavan, where 76% voted in favor
The list goes on, but the message is clear – those who elect us want us accountable to the people, not to corporate special interests.
But this bill does exactly the opposite. It allows corporate giving in a way we have never seen before in Wisconsin’s history, increases spending by special interests and billionaires, and drastically reduces transparency and the public’s right to know who is spending big money to influence elections and the decisions our elected officials make.
Under this bill:
- Corporations would be allowed to give money directly to political parties and legislative campaign committees – setting the stage for a new legal form of money laundering.
- Individuals and groups could spend unlimited amounts of money on ads supporting or opposing candidates without even having to disclose their identities or sources of funding right up to 60 days before an election.
- During the last 60 days before an election, individuals and groups could spend just shy of $5000 to elect or defeat a candidate without having to disclose their identities or funding sources.
- Individuals making larger contributions directly to candidates would no longer have to disclose their employer – making pay to play easier to hide.
- And the bill includes dramatic changes that allow coordination between candidates and interest groups which, coupled with new rules for corporate giving, set the stage for pay-to-play scenarios where elected officials – and the decisions they make – are sold to the highest bidder.
All of these changes would apply not only on the state level, but also on the local level – meaning the potential for corruption is very real, not only in the state Capitol, but in our city and village halls, as well. There are many more changes this bill makes, and these are just some of the most egregious highlights.
As I said previously, this week Republicans are planning to pass 3 bills.
One shields corrupt politicians from John Doe investigations – an investigatory tool some District Attorneys say is necessary to ever investigate and prosecute such offenses.
One dismantles the Government Accountability board, turning our highly regarded non-partisan watchdog into a partisan lapdog with no teeth.
And one rewrites campaign finance laws to give corporations and billionaires more power and to shield their spending from the view of the public – and from the view of those charged with ensuring fairness and prosecuting corruption.
To be clear, this comes on the heels of a failed – yet apparently ongoing – attempt by Republicans to throw Wisconsin’s open records laws out the window, shielding themselves from public scrutiny.
It bears repeating. This week, Assembly Republicans are poised to usher in a new era of corruption.
These bills may leave some wondering what the Republicans have to hide. I can’t help but wonder what they have planned.”