A Valentine for Democracy in Wisconsin Sen. Larson Unveils a “Campaign Integrity Package”

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For Immediate Release:          Contact: Matt Rothschild
February 12, 2019                   (608) 255-4260, c: (608) 695-7368

A Valentine for Democracy in Wisconsin
Sen. Larson Unveils a “Campaign Integrity Package”
at a press conference Feb. 14, at 11:00 a.m., in the Senate Parlor 

MADISON—At a press conference this Valentine’s Day, Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee is unveiling nine bills that address Wisconsin’s broken campaign finance system.

“Powerful special interest groups and wealthy corporations continue to have an overwhelming and growing effect on elections across Wisconsin and nationwide,” Sen. Larson says. These bills “address our most damaging campaign finance problems.”

Several bills would reduce the amount that individuals can give directly to candidates, political parties, legislative campaign committees, and PACs.

Two bills would ban corporations, unions, tribes, and other groups from giving to political parties and legislative campaign committees.

Another bill supplies a strict definition of “coordination” between candidates and outside groups, and bans such coordination both with “issue advocacy” groups and express advocacy groups.

And three bills would bring more transparency. One would require “issue advocacy” groups that engage in electioneering to disclose the names of their donors who give $100 or more. Another would require campaigns to list the employer of any donor who gives $100 or more. And a third bill would plug a loophole in the law that allows most national PACs not to register with, or disclose their donors to, the state of Wisconsin.

“These bills would go a long way toward rectifying the damage that was done when the GOP leadership disastrously rewrote our campaign finance law back in 2015,” says Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Sen. Larson will speak, as will other legislators sponsoring these bills. And Rothschild will also speak, representing the Money Out, Voters In – Wisconsin coalition, which includes Blue Jean Nation, Our Wisconsin Revolution, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Wisconsin United to Amend, and WisPIRG.

“There is no better valentine for the people of Wisconsin than clean and open government,” Rothschild says.

The event is at 11:00 a.m., Thurs, Feb. 14, in the Senate Parlor at the state capitol.

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Subeck, Hansen Push Referendum to Overturn Citizens United

For Immediate Release: January 16, 2019

For more information, contact:

Jim Crist, (608) 274-6201, wisconsin@unitedtoamend.org

Matt Rothschild, (608) 255-4260, rothschild@wisdc.org

Subeck, Hansen Push Referendum to Overturn Citizens UnitedPress Conference Jan. 22 at 10:00 a.m. in State Capitol

MADISON—On Tuesday, January 22, Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) will be holding a press conference to unveil their resolutions that would give Wisconsinites a chance to weigh in on the role of big money in elections. The resolutions propose a statewide advisory referendum urging our elected officials to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and related Supreme Court rulings, and to declare that only flesh-and-blood human beings have constitutional rights.

The press conference will be at 10:00 a.m. in the Assembly Parlor of the State Capitol to mark the ninth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which said that corporations and other groups, including unions and now SuperPACs, can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence who gets elected.

“Corporations and billionaires shouldn’t be able to buy our elections,” Rep. Subeck said.

“It’s time to let the voters be heard on this critical threat to our democracy,” Sen. Hansen said.

These resolutions are backed by the Money Out, Voters In–Wisconsin coalition, which consists of Blue Jean Nation, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Common Cause in Wisconsin, NAACP of Madison, Our Wisconsin Revolution, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Wisconsin Farmers Union, WisPIRG, United to Amend, and Wisconsin Voices.

To date, a total of 144 communities in Wisconsin have passed local referendums or resolutions in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to make clear that corporations aren’t persons and money isn’t speech. And 19 states have already called for such a constitutional amendment.

The Money Out, Voters In Coalition, recognizing that Martin Luther King Day and the anniversary of the Citizens United decision fell on the same day this year, underscored that campaign finance reform is a civil rights issue.

“Poor people and people of color are underrepresented in the donor ranks, and as a result, our elected officials are not as responsive to them,” says Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “This has got to change.”

As Dr. King himself said: “Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. . . . It is not man.

 

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (November 7, 2018) – On Tuesday, November 6th, Wisconsin residents in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities in three counties: Jackson (69%), Sauk (72%) and Wood (80%); the villages of Readstown (91%), Westfield (87%) and Weston (83%); and the towns of Kickapoo (85%), Rib Mountain (78%) and Vermont (86%).

That brings the total to 142 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. In total, about three million people (55% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 780 towns, villages, cities and counties.

Kay Meyer from Rib Mountain said: “Hopefully our state elected officials will finally start to understand that when voters on both sides of the political spectrum from 142 Wisconsin communities indicate that they are unhappy with how campaign financing is working now, that it is time to take seriously the call of those voters to implement the needed changes to bring transparency and fairness to the process.”

Frank Buress, a leader in Marquette County, said: “These referenda consistently pass with amazingly high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people.  It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Resolutions calling for a statewide vote on Citizens United have been introduced into the state legislature (AJR 53 / SJR 54).  The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]  And numerous polls indicate that government corruption is either the most important or a very important issue facing the country. [2]

Gaylord Oppegard, a resident in Jackson County, explained that: “We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races. Only people have a constitutional right to free speech.  Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment.”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a cross-partisan, all volunteer, citizens group.

For more information visit UnitedToAmend.org

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3.

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

Link to this press release.

 

Money in Politics Tops List of Voter Concerns

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jim Crist, 608-274-6201, wisconsin@unitedtoamend.org

Money in Politics Tops List of Voter Concerns

Madison, WI (October 15, 2018) – Three recent polls show that government corruption is the top issue on the minds of voters.[1]  Over 90% of Americans think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[2]  It’s no surprise that Americans’ job approval rating for Congress hovers near single digits.

The non-partisan citizen-action group, Wisconsin United To Amend, contacted all 200 state Assembly and Senate candidates numerous times, via email, Facebook and phone calls, to determine their level of support for a U.S. Constitutional amendment declaring that free spending is not free speech and only actual human beings have human rights.  Based on responses, the group has compiled a voter education guide with a list of 94 Anti-Corruption Candidates (http://wiuta.org/2018-anti-corruption-candidates)

Lori Hawkins, a state senate candidate from Bristol stated, “Citizens United has allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds on elections.  It can be strongly argued that this is not what the framers intended when they drafted the First Amendment.  We can look to our own state to find countless attacks on campaign finance legislation since 2011.  Dark money groups can spend massive amounts in our elections without having to disclose their donors.”

Katherine Gaulke, a state assembly candidate from the Town of Delavan explains, “In 2015, my opponent voted to overturn a corporate contribution ban that had been in place since 1905.  As your next Assemblyperson from the 32nd District, I will support AJR 53 and Wisconsin United to Amend.  Let’s get dark money out of politics.”

Mike McCabe, clean government advocate and former candidate for governor, lamented the lack of attention given to this issue during candidate forums, stating “There were about 50 candidate forums leading up to the primary.  Over the course of all those forums, candidates were asked more than 200 questions.  Three were about money in politics. Voters are concerned about it and want to hear what can be done.  Most candidates don’t want to talk about it.  The media and interest groups rarely ask them to.”

Wisconsin United To Amend is a non-partisan, all volunteer organization. One volunteer, Bill Dagnon of Baraboo, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 133 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment.  We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

Due to the efforts by hundreds of volunteers across the state, referenda and resolutions have passed in 133 communities with voter approvals as high as 91%.  In total, 3.0 million people (52% of Wisconsinites) live in jurisdictions that have called for this amendment, including 77 towns and villages.  Nine more communities will be on the November ballot. For more information, visit wiuta.org.

Link to this press release.

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3.

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3 and photo4.

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Nine More Communities Vote to Amend the U.S. Constitution

Madison, WI (April 4, 2018) – On Tuesday, April 3rd, Wisconsin residents in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech.

All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities: Green County (78%), St. Croix County (77%), the cities of La Crosse (88%), Marshfield (81%), Sun Prairie (83%), Rice Lake (81%), the villages of McFarland (79%) and Wittenberg (83%), and the town of Sand Creek (77%) in Dunn County.

That brings the total to 129 Wisconsin communities that have called for an amendment. In total, about three million people (52% of Wisconsinites) live in these jurisdictions. Across the country, 19 state legislatures have voted for an amendment, as well as over 770 towns, villages, cities and counties.

Pam Knudtson from La Crosse United to Amend, a local nonpartisan group said: “I sincerely hope that the wide margins of voter support seen over and over again in these referendums, and the strong Resolutions of support passed by municipalities like La Crosse, will start to motivate our elected representatives across the state. Voters of both parties, and independents, want them to move beyond their partisan issues and put this issue to a vote through a non-binding statewide referendum.”

Jeanette Kelty, a leader in Green County, said: “These referenda consistently pass with amazingly high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Resolutions calling for a statewide Citizens United advisory referendum have been introduced into the state legislature in every session since 2013. The referendum would ask voters if they support allowing individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. For more information, see press release.

Gerry Lisi, a resident of Rice Lake, explained that: “We need limits on how much money can be contributed and spent on political races. Only people have a constitutional right to free speech. Money is not ‘political speech’ under the First Amendment.”

Four in five Americans oppose the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 85 percent of Americans—including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents—believe we need fundamental changes to our campaign finance system or to completely rebuild it.

Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, summed it up succinctly: “People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money.”

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information visit wiuta.org

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3. Link to this press release.

Photos: photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5, photo6 and photo7.

Nine Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

Nine Communities to Vote to Reclaim Democracy from Moneyed Interests

Madison, WI (March 21, 2018) – On Tuesday, April 3rd, Wisconsin residents in nine communities will vote on whether to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only humans should have constitutional rights and that money is not the same as speech and political spending can be limited to allow all Americans to participate in the democratic process.

Voters will cast ballots in Green and St. Croix counties, the cities of La Crosse, Marshfield, Sun Prairie, Rice Lake, the villages of McFarland and Wittenberg, and the town of Sand Creek in Dunn County.

If all vote in favor, 129 Wisconsin communities will have called for the We The People amendment. Nationwide, 19 state legislatures have done likewise, as have more than 760 towns, villages, cities, and counties.

“We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us, and they won’t until we get the big money out of politics,” said New Richmond resident Jane Hansen.

Multiple polls show over 90% of Americans, regardless of party, think special interest money has too much influence in American political campaigns.[1]

Sun Prairie City Council President Al Guyant said, “The avalanche of corporate money is burying average citizens under a wave of corruption that is the worst ever in our nation’s history.  Government is being corrupted at every level.  We must amend the Constitution to roll back the effects of Citizens United.”

Former State Senator Dale Schultz, summed it up well. “We’re talking about billionaires turning this country into a Russian-style oligarchy, where there are two dozen billionaires who buy the whole political process… we are awash in money because of Citizens United, and it puts good people in both parties in a difficult situation.” [2]

One volunteer, Ben Dorshorst of Marshfield, expressed frustration: “Citizens in 120 Wisconsin communities have passed resolutions calling for an amendment. We need state legislators to put it on a statewide ballot, but they won’t even let the bills have a public hearing!”

The roots of the problem run deeper than Citizens United. Over a century ago Robert M. La Follette spoke out against corruption wrought by the “concessions and privileges” given to corporations by legislators. “Why,” he asked, “in a government where the people are sovereign, why are these things tolerated?”

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information: wiuta.org

Background material can be obtained here: pdf1, pdf2 and pdf3. Link to this press release.

Photos: photo1, photo2 and photo3.

Contact George Penn, 608-244-6436, georgepenn51@gmail.com

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/10/28/National-Politics/Polling/release_497.xml

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_gop_polling_results.pdf

https://mayday.us/data/20150925_dem_polling_results.pdf

http://www.texansunitedtoamend.org/uploads/5/0/8/1/5081028/representus_analysis.pdf

[2] Senator Dale Schultz presentation, March 7, 2014 at the L.D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI.

Unhappy Birthday Party for Citizens United

January 21st marks the 8th anniversary of the horrendous Citizens United decision, which has contributed mightily to the decline in our democracy.

Program: Matt Rothschild and John Nichols will be speaking and the Raging Grannies will be singing

Sunday, January 21 at 1 PM at the High Noon Saloon, 701 E Washington Ave,  Madison


1:00 – general socializing, silent auction opens
1:30 – program begins: update on SCWUTA activities
1:40 – performance by the Raging Grannies
2:00 – update on state-level (WIUTA) activities
2:10 – speaker: Matt Rothschild of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
2:40 – encore by the Raging Grannies
3:00 – silent auction closes; speaker: John Nichols of The Cap Times
3:25 – winners of silent auction announced (must be present)
3:30 – end of program

• What to bring
enthusiasm for the spring elections and all your friends who think that democracy is still worth fighting for

• Important to know
$5 suggested donation at the door
Hosted by South Central Wisconsin United To Amend (SCWUTA)

• Please RSVP via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/232860570588610/