Disclosure & transparency are crucial to a healthy democracy.

Everyone has a right to know who is trying to influence our views and to influence and fund the political campaigns of our elected representatives. A 21st century democracy requires strong transparency and disclosure laws, so everyone knows who is funding political campaigns.

Secret, “dark” money in elections is unacceptable and undemocratic.

The need for heightened transparency has never been more urgent, as millions of dollars from anonymous sources flood into elections around the country. In Wisconsin, we see out-of-state special interests investing unprecedented amounts of money into every election – from statewide races to local ballot initiatives.

First in 2011, and then again in 2015, then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the gerrymandered, Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature ended public financing of state elections, including for state supreme court elections – a significant reform that Common Cause Wisconsin was in the forefront of leading to enactment into law in 2009. Walker and the GOP eviscerated and, in some cases, eliminated completely limits on the raising and spending of special interest money and weakened or destroyed disclosure requirements. They even ended prohibitions still in place everywhere else in the nation on the coordination of campaign activity between candidates for state office and dark money special interest groups.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 opened the floodgates of money in politics. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in that decision and others, has upheld the need for and ability to require disclosure of that money.  Transparency in government is key to a healthy and strong democracy. Voters like you and me must be able to trust elected leaders; that means government must be transparent and honest with its citizens.

We also deserve to know who is trying to influence our votes and to see the funders of a campaign in TV and radio ads and in print and on the internet.

Recent polls show that the vast majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support strong transparency laws that allow voters to know who is funding secret money political groups and campaigns. Disclosure is a common sense, bipartisan solution that stops backroom deals and ensures everyone knows when money is changing hands.

Common Cause Wisconsin has helped lead the effort to get bipartisan electioneering disclosure measures introduced in the Legislature in the past – and will continue pushing to shed light on who is trying to influence our views and our elected representatives. And we will continue to push once again for a prohibition on candidate coordination with dark money groups. And, last but not least, we will seek opportunities to again establish sensible spending limits and provide public financing of elections in Wisconsin. Elected officials need to be beholden to the taxpayers of Wisconsin through publicly funded campaigns, full disclosure, and spending limits. We need to replace the system that exists now which enables deep-pocketed special interest groups and multi-millionaires to provide the bulk of campaign funding, much of it in secret.

Finally, Common Cause Wisconsin together with you, the people, must work to achieve a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that will overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision and restore sanity and fairness to our campaign finance laws nationally and in Wisconsin. Our state was once a national leader in the advancement of campaign finance reform, disclosure and transparency. We can and must be again reform campaign financing and spending for the sake of democracy.