WI Gov Supports Status Quo over Tightening, Loosening Campaign Finance Laws

Wisconsin News (1/7): “Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has called for changing state law to let businesses donate directly to political parties. Currently in Wisconsin, corporations cannot donate to candidates or parties, but some fund outside groups engaged in election-related advocacy. Vos, speaking to WisconsinEye, pitched direct giving as preferable because ‘it’s transparent, it has to be disclosed to the public, it’s all available online.’
[Governor Scott] Walker, however, is cool to this idea.

“’I have no interest in going down the path of other states” that allow corporate contributions, he said, citing Illinois as an example. ‘I don’t see a direct benefit in that.’

“The Legislature is also likely to make a fresh effort to raise contribution limits for candidates and parties. But Walker said ‘we were able to do just fine’ in the last election, in which individuals could give no more than $10,000 to his campaign.”


WI Campaign Finance Rules May Be Completely Redone

Sioux City Journal (1/4): “Republicans, in firm control of state government when they take office Monday, are poised to make the most sweeping revisions to state campaign finance law in decades.

“Many of those changes are already in effect after a series of federal court decisions made many current laws unenforceable. But a more comprehensive rewrite is in the works, and the overhaul is getting a thumbs up from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board — a frequent target of GOP ire that is itself in line for a possible makeover.

“Among other things, lawmakers are considering increasing campaign contribution limits and clarifying the coordination restrictions at the heart of a recent John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign.

“Also on tap: changes to election procedures, including banning all cameras from polling places and testing poll workers on their knowledge of election law. Those changes would come on the heels of a slew of changes adopted last session, including a controversial voter ID law that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up this year.”

WI Ethics Comm. Chief Refutes Assembly Speaker’s Criticisms, Calls for Legislators to Work with Commission

The Star: Republican Assembly Speaker Robin, “Vos likes that the board, which the Legislature created in 2007, is led by six former judges appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. But he feels these judges are being manipulated by [general counsel Kevin] Kennedy and other staff into serving as ‘a rubber stamp.'”

“Board Chair Thomas Barland finds Vos’ criticism ‘grossly exaggerated and sensationalized.’ Gerald Nichol, a board member since 2008, says he’s “never felt misled” by staff. Both praise Kennedy, whom only the board can remove.

Barland, a former Republican lawmaker, laments that in his five years on the GAB ‘no member of either house of the Legislature has contacted me before making public calls for changes in how the board operates.’ Nichol, a former Republican district attorney, sees a need to tweak some GAB rules but is likewise miffed that lawmakers ‘never come to us’ for input.”