Poor Cap Times editorial knocks Assembly Dems

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The Capital Times editorial board delivered a much-needed piece highlighting the hypocrisy of Speaker Mike Sheridan’s claims of instilling “ethics” in the Assembly.

The Assembly speaker declared this week: “Assembly Democrats are fully committed to clean government, and earlier this year, made a sweeping change to campaign finance practices. We prohibited members from fundraising for their individual campaigns during the budget process, and we now see that rule was incredibly effective.”

Spare us the hyperbole.

Good to see the Times on top of one of the biggest dilemmas facing Wisconsin’s political system. Nevertheless, I can’t decide which is worse, Mike Sheridan or the editorial criticizing him. It’s incredible how much the board left unsaid on such an important issue. It could have mentioned, for instance, that despite banning “individual campaigns” from accepting campaign contributions during the budget process, the ban allows party committees to raise money, which the Assembly Democrats so crassly took advantage of in June, and tried to exploit once more but was deterred by a media fire-storm.

Speaker Sheridan and his team implemented a minor reform. For this they deserved and got credit at the time it was implemented. Now they need to get serious about real reform.

It might have been more convincing to the reader if the board had taken the time to explain what  the “real reform” it supports means. The Times criticizes politicians for accepting contributions before and after the budget, but what does it suggest to remedy the pay-to-play? Public campaign financing? The idea has a strong intellectual backing – an articulate argument in its favor would have been a worthy read.

The Cap Times has in many ways admirably adapted to a changing media climate. Its weekly edition generally has interesting feature stories and its political and policy analysis generally bests the competition from regional dailies, most notably the State Journal. Although I admit to being a relatively new reader (last couple years), I sense that the Times more enthusiastically embraced its progressive label after it changed to a weekly. However, those credentials will not be respected until its ed board beefs up its articles, and stops leaving gaping holes in their arguments for obnoxious bloggers like me to point out.

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