The Wisconsin Assembly votes tomorrow afternoon on the Senate’s changes to campaign finance and elections oversight laws. The highlights of the changes:
- The Government Accountability Board will be spun into two organizations, one for ethics and one for election rules-following. The ethics board will include two judges.
- Campaign finance laws will allow double the previous donation limits for individuals, but, unlike the bill the Assembly passed providing unlimited contributions, cap donations to political parties and campaign committees from corporations, unions, and Indian tribes at $12,000.
These updates are largely window dressing; the Higher House needed to leave its fingerprints on the bills for the sake of it. While appointing three Republicans and Democrats to the ethics board might naturally induce gridlock, the remedy is not to find balance with two retired judges. Judges, even when not running under a partisan banner, often have their own agendas. This isn’t news.
After the first assembly vote, Democrats fired off press releases seeming to indicate that, until that point, Wisconsin politics were free from corruption, and the only baddies were Governor Walker and his friends. “Wisconsin is open for corruption,” Rep. Peter Barca mourned in a public statement.
While Democrats decry more corporate money in politics tomorrow, it’s incumbent on any Republican to lob the grenade back and highlight the millions of dollars spent by Big Labor in Wisconsin over the last five years, first in response to Act 10 and most recently to prop up Democrat hairdo for governor Mary Burke. Unions, and any other of the many lefty special interests, will have just as much right to spend money on candidates, causes, and elections as any corporation.
“Both sides are guilty of blahblahblah” is a tired canard and not demonstrative of any intellectual analysis, and in this context it’s not the point. Democrats wave their white banner of beneficence without ever being called out for having their own overlords.
That was the case in October when Assembly Democrats recused themselves from voting on the first campaign finance reform bill because it would directly affect their committees. (Something that backfired when Speaker Vos was able to celebrate a unanimous vote in favor of the law.) The recusal was high-minded nothingness, a platitude that the non-thinking will celebrate while the rest of us roll our eyes. Brian Sikma at Media Trackers did a lovely job outlining why right after it happened.
Tomorrow Democrats might uniformly refuse to do their jobs. What’s worse is that the people who voted them into office will see it as a victory.