Special Session On Campaign Finance Reform Will Begin in Earnest on Tuesday, February 12th

CONTACT: Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

FOR RELEASE: February 7, 2008

Special Session On Campaign Finance Reform Will Begin in Earnest on Tuesday, February 12th

The long-anticipated Special Session on Campaign Finance Reform, called by Governor Jim Doyle on November 30th (after a solid year of badgering him by Common Cause in Wisconsin), will commence in earnest this coming Tuesday, February 12th. The State Senate Committee on Campaign Finance Reform, Rural Issues and Information Technology, chaired by Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls), will hold a public hearing (at 1:00 PM in Room 411-South of the Capitol) on the Governor’s Special Session legislation–which consists primarily of SENATE BILL 12 and SENATE BILL 171.

Senate Bill 12 is the sweeping, bipartisan comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation authored by Senators Michael Ellis (R-Neenah) and Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), which was first devised by Senator Ellis and Common Cause in Wisconsin in 1999 and which currently now enjoys its widest and deepest bipartisan and bicameral support ever, in this, its fifth incarnation. Senate Bill 171, authored by Senator Kreitlow, would provide 100 percent public financing for State Supreme Court candidates who agree to voluntarily limit their spending to $400,000. Both of these sweeping reform measures are sorely needed in Wisconsin to clean up our politics and to restore integrity to our public policy-making process.

The prospects for passage of this reform package were greatly enhanced last month when the state’s two largest senior organizations — The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) and AARP-Wisconsin — endorsed and said they would make campaign finance reform a priority at press conference organized by Common Cause in Wisconsin. Senators Ellis, Erpenbach and Kreitlow attended the press conference and it is well worth your time to watch and listen to their remarks and those of CWAG and AARP-Wisconsin which were fimed by Wisconsin Eye. (Scroll down to 1.15.08 Press Conference Senior Groups Endorse Campaign Finace Reform).

It is anticipated that shortly after the February 12th public hearing (and we urge you to attend and make your voice heard there, if you can) the Committee will pass and send the reform package to the floor of the State Senate where it ought to pass with a huge, bipartisan margin. Then, the Assembly will hopefully face a great deal of pressure to consider the measure before the Wisconsin Legislature adjourns for the year–in mid-March. But first to the State Senate.

During the past week, CC/WI has been making the case for the Special Session reform legislation and for more information you can listen to the following two radio programs that provide all the details:

Lee Rayburn PM February 5, 2008(audio)

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin joins Lee for a full-hour to explain the power big money holds over our political process & the need for fundamental campaign finance reform.

Conversations with Joy Cardin(audio)

For Program On: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:00 AM

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would fully fund political campaigns with public money. Would this clean up politics? After six, Joy Cardin and her guest talk about campaign finance reform in Wisconsin. Guest: Jay Heck, executive director, Common Cause In Wisconsin.

Late last week yet another associate of Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha, convicted of making illegal campaign contributions last year, has been convicted of the same, further underscoring the need for campaign finance reform (as if that were necessary) and Senate Bill 12. Read more: Political Donor Pleads Guilty.