AP: Wisconsin Republicans early Saturday pushed through a pair of bills to loosen campaign finance law ... And despite assurances earlier Friday from Republican senators that they were going to require campaign donors to disclose their employer, as is required under current law, the final version approved does not mandate such reporting … does away with a requirement that people who give more than $100 to campaigns disclose their employers.Republican donors are salivating over this beauty. They have already tried to game the elections campaign system, and now can again without prosecution. This amazing action gives business owners the ability to ask, and coerce employees to contribute to politicians they don't support:
In 2011, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. CEO William Gardner was convicted of two felonies for exceeding campaign finance limits and giving personal and company funds to railroad employees so they could make political donations to Walker and other candidates at Gardner's direction.Lesson learned? You would think, but instead, the lesson Republicans learned was to make this deceptive power shift to business owners legal and ripe for abuse.
(Gardner) asked his employees to make tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions, including donations to Gov. Scott Walker, and then reimbursing his workers.
Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), at one time a reasonable voice in the Senate, went so far as to claim that the names of corporations and other employers weren't relevant and that those parties could face boycotts or worse for making political contributions.
Democrats blasted the measure ... "What the leader talks about isn't freedom of speech. It's freedom of cash," Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said.
Identifying those donations was made easier because donors had to disclose they worked for the railroad company when they gave the money.
The requirement also made it possible for the public to learn payday lenders had flooded majority Democrats' and minority Republicans' campaign accounts with a combined $75,000 in 2009 as they tried to thwart efforts to regulate them.
The battered public is already numb to the inevitable corruption they know will follow, all the while being told this is what the founding fathers meant about freedom and liberty. Thank god for the Republicans warped sense of "confidence" and "certainty" being returned to our electoral system.
So who is calling for these measures? The Republican politicians in control of state government and the billionaires who fund them.
The only group lobbying in favor of the bill to deform the GAB is David Koch's Americans for Prosperity, which spent $10 million in Wisconsin during the recall elections. A newly-formed group called "Wisconsin Alliance for Reform" has begun running radio ads supporting the bill; its web domain was registered by Lorrie Pickens, a former leader of AFP, and its Executive Director is Luke Fuller, a former staffer for the bill's sponsor Sen. Leah Vukmir (who is also the number two at the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC.")
The only groups that lobbied in support of the bill exempting political corruption from John Doe probes is, again, Americans for Prosperity, as well as Wisconsin Family Action, a group that was implicated in the John Doe probe.
The only group lobbying in support of the bill to gut the state's campaign finance laws is Wisconsin Right to Life, whose Executive Director is Pickens, the former AFP leader who also registered the web domain for "Wisconsin Alliance for Reform." Pickens was implicated in the 1997 campaign finance coordination probe that resulted in the harshest penalty ever levied for election violations in the state, and which established the legal precedent for the Walker investigation.
And these special interest groups, funded by out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers, are apparently calling the shots within the Wisconsin legislature, regardless of what voters think.
This week, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found 69 percent of both Republican and Democratic voters agree with the statement that they “feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power . . . rather than working to help everyday people get ahead” ... 61 communities in Wisconsin, including some in the most conservative pockets of the state, have passed referendums expressing opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United and declaring money is not speech.