Corrupted by power: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin

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Campaign finance reform is the true cause of only a few politicians. It’s not exactly a secret. Every time politicians pontificate on the issue to win sympathy from voters, one can rest assured that they will attempt their darnedest to renege on whatever promise of ethical superiority they give during the campaign. “Unlike my opponent, I will not accept money from lobbyists.” “Unlike my opponent, I will not let lobbyists craft my legislation.” “Unlike my opponent, I will abide by strict fundraising limits.” The key phrase is “my opponent.” Once that opponent is out of the way, the campaign promise is forgotten, because, you know, everything has changed.

So it’s not surprising that the DPW, excuse me, the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, went back on its pledge to refuse campaign contributions during the budget process. It’s to be expected. The self-imposed ban, put in place four months ago by the assembly Democrats, apparently only applied to individual members, argues Assembly Speaker-elect Mike Sheridan. That the fundraiser, an $1000 per person golf outing, is for the ADCC, apparently makes everything different. You see, they’re not raising money for just one member, they’re raising money for all of the members!

“Ninety-nine campaign committees that in previous years were pushing ahead at full steam are shut down and they will be shut down until the governor receives the budget,” Majority Leader Thomas Nelson said Friday. “I think that the rule we set forth at the beginning of February has been widely successful, has achieved its stated goal and we’re on track to pass a balanced budget on time for the first time in 30 years.”

The logic employed by the Democrats is so pathetic that its flaws are hardly worth pointing out. If anything, the assembly committee will make it easier to extract favors from special interests, who, instead of giving money to individual members who then have to sneak in provisions for them, can give money to the committee, who can then find a member to implement the favor. The process highlights the flaws with campaign finance restrictions that we see at the national level as well, in which there are rather strict limits on donations to candidates ($2,300 per election), but much laxer ones for political parties ($25,000). Granted, state election laws are even easier – one can make $10,000 contribution to a candidate. So maybe the Dems just got a little too far ahead of themselves with this ban. That’s a lot of cash to give up in one year.

All we can hope for is that watch dog groups will monitor the contributions made at this fundraiser and highlight the links between the donations and the budget. Although the assembly members are holding the event five days after the bugdet is received, the bill will no doubt come back the assembly after the senate makes its own changes. So there will be ample time to add pork, create loopholes, and do everything else that they stood against in November.

It would be good to hear a statement from Russ Feingold on this issue. Feingold is one of the very few office holders whose position on campaign finance is not blatantly hypocritical, even though he did not impose the type of strict finance limits on himself in 2004 as he had in 1998 and 1992.

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2 Responses to “Corrupted by power: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin”

  1. Clinton demands Mars delegates be seated at masterpiece Says:

    […] Corrupted by power: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin « The Sconz […]

  2. Herald & Cardinal need to report on legislature « The Sconz Says:

    […] have already broken their ethics pledge to not engage in fundraising during the budget process by holding a $1,000-a-plate golf outing next week. I really hope that fundraiser is not somehow related to this legislator’s re-writing of the […]

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