Where’s the pressure on Legislature Dems?

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A few weeks ago there was a state media frenzy about a promise broken by the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats. The Dems, including Speaker Mike Sheridan, had pledged not to accept campaign contributions while the budget was being written. We can assume that, like most politicians and lovers, they then spent the majority of their free time trying to figure out how to get out of the awful commitment.

Apparently all they had to do was look to the insurance industry for the answer: shared risk. If they all take them, then they’re all innocent. Hence, the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee scheduled a $1000 a plate fundraiser on June 15 at the Wild Rock Golf Club. Under fire for hypocrisy, the Dems finally postponed the gig, even though they hosted a similar one on June 3 which went practically undetected in the media.

The story gets even worse. The Assembly Democrats have ironically shown support for a full ban on campaign fundraising during the budget process, which of course would make illegal the events mentioned above. But their colleagues in the Senate don’t agree, and have threatened to block the proposal. The State Journal editorializes:

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker has climbed out on a limb to protect a campaign fundraising tactic that betrays public trust in government.

This unrelenting support for budget fundraising seems to indicate just how important the practice is for legislators. Because of cynical trade of favors for donations? Perhaps partly. But also because the legislature is dead throughout most of the year, and the budget is by far the most important aspect of their work in any given two year period. The budget generally encompasses a variety of issues – everything from illegal immigration to gay rights. Hence, Decker likely sees it as crucial in stirring up the base and getting cash for the campaigns.

That matters to him, but it shouldn’t matter to us. The press needs to keep the pressure on Democrats to pass a ban and make Wisconsin an example for the rest of the country. The Cap Times, the Journal-Sentinel – your voices need to be heard on the matter.

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