Sen. Erpenbach: Illegal Coordination Highlighted in Guardian story


Last November, the Wisconsin Senate Republicans made changes to Wisconsin election laws that they knew would allow collusion and coordination between political candidates and dark money issue ads in elections. This move was needed because they had been breaking the law, most notable in the recall elections as highlighted in The Guardian leak of thousands of pages of a John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach, author of a bill to require the reporting of all spending in elections.


“Wisconsin courts have found that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value. AB 387 changed that and made collusion and coordination legal, even when candidates coordinate with ’issue advocacy’ groups,” Erpenbach said.


“Issue ads claim they are NOT campaigning because they are just educating voters, not trying to influence the outcome of an election. But coordination with a candidate is the definition of campaigning”, Erpenbach concluded.  “We argued all day on the Senate floor and every single Senate Republican knew they were blowing our campaign finance laws to pieces for their own personal benefit. That is the true crime in all of this. Politicians voting to benefits themselves.”


Senator Erpenbach has worked in the Legislature to regulate issue ads since his election in 1998 to the Senate, that includes working on bipartisan proposals to limit outside spending in elections and shed light on who is spending money to influence the outcomes of elections and legislation.