Wisconsin

PFAW: Scandal Surrounding Senate President is More Evidence of Big Money Assault on Wisconsin

MADISON – Wisconsin Senate President State Senator Mike Ellis’ announcement Friday that he will not seek re-election, which arrived after Ellis was caught on camera claiming he might set up his own political action committee to attack his Democratic opponent, is evidence of the big money assault on the Wisconsin Legislature, said People For the American Way Regional Political Coordinator Scott Foval.

“Mike Ellis apparently felt he had no choice but to raise big cash just to compete, and allegedly was willing to compromise his ethics in the process,” Foval said. “The fact that the Senate President got caught planning to form a super PAC to attack Penny Bernard Schaber is just evidence of a larger problem – too much political money driving who gets elected in Wisconsin.”

People For the American Way and its allies have repeatedly highlighted how Wisconsin Republicans have enacted policies that benefit the wealthy and powerful corporate interests. Since 2010, Wisconsin’s GOP legislators have enacted restrictions on women’s health, restrictions on voting rights, and restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees, as well as a budget that favors wealthy tax payers rather than the middle class. PFAW’s Foval called on citizens to fight back against big money in politics and strike back at the voting booth.

“The time has come for Wisconsin’s voters to take back our state by registering to vote, hitting the streets to knock doors, and voting for progressive candidates who represent the people instead of big money donors,” Foval said.  “This isn’t cause for celebration. It’s a call to put our heads down, and get to work to elect new leadership to the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor’s office.”

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Wisconsin GOP House Candidate Glenn Grothman Speaks Out Against 'The War On Men'

As we wrote earlier today, Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman is running in the Republican primary this year against U.S. Rep. Tom Petri , which promises to bring extremism in the GOP primaries to a whole new level.

In our round-up of Grothman’s extremism we mentioned a speech he gave to a 2010 Tea Party rally, in which he claimed that “gals” are unfairly getting promoted ahead of men when really “in the long run, a lot of women like to stay at home and have their husbands be the primary breadwinner.”

He also blamed the downfall of America on single mothers on public benefits, even though he claims to have met many single moms while protesting outside abortion clinics: “Now, I know a lot of gals who are having kids out of wedlock, and I love them. I’ve been outside abortion clinics, and I’ve encouraged them.”

“Our country is not going to survive if we continue this war on men,” he concludes.

Although Grothman’s speech has been reported on a number of Wisconsin blogs, we believe it deserves a wider audience. Here’s a slightly shortened version of the legendary speech, via Blogging Blue.

Also in the speech, Grothman claimed that the government is forcing businesses to hire women and people of color and thereby attempting to “divide Americans by race.”

“In addition to the unfairness, the reason that will destroy the country is we are telling people they are not Americans,” he said. “And particularly we are telling our new immigrants, when you come here, if you’re from the Philippines, if you’re from Costa Rica, if you’re from Nigeria, if you’re from Pakistan, you should walk around with a chip on your shoulder and ask your government, ‘What are you going to give me, because I’m from the Phillipines?’ and ‘What are you going to give me because I’m from Pakistan?’ and ‘What are you going to give me because I’m from Mexico?’”

Wisconsin GOP House Candidate Glenn Grothman's 10 Most Outrageous Moments

Wisconsin Republican state senator Glenn Grothman announced today that he is launching a primary challenge against US Rep. Tom Petri. Grothman has higher national name recognition than your typical state lawmaker because of his record of making outrageous statements and pushing extremist positions. In honor of Grothman’s bid for federal office, we’ve collected ten highlights from his time in the Wisconsin legislature.

1. Claims women earn less because “money is more important for men.”

When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repealed the states equal pay law, Grothman explained pay disparties by saying, “You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

2. Advocates for seven-day work weeks.

This year, Grothman has pushed to undo a state law that requires businesses to give their employees at least one day off a week. Grothman also backed efforts to block paid sick leave requirements and require state employees to work on Martin Luther King Day. In 2011, when protesters were occupying the state capitol in protest of Gov. Walkers’ union-busting laws, Grothman called the protesters “a bunch slobs” and “college students having a fun party.”

3. Worries gays are using sex-ed classes for recruitment.

After Wisconsin passed a comprehensive sex education bill in 2010 in an effort to combat a growing rate of STIs among teenagers, Grothman told a reporter that the sex ed classes would be used to recruit kids into homosexuality.

“Did people even know what homosexuality was in high school in 1975?” he asked. “I don't remember any discussion about that at the time. There were a few guys who would make fun of a few effeminate boys, but that's a different thing than homosexuality…Homosexuality was not on anybody's radar. And that's a good thing.”

He added: “Why sit down with 7th graders and say to some you will be heterosexual, some homosexual? Part of that agenda which is left unsaid is that some of those who throw it out as an option would like it if more kids became homosexuals.”

4. Warns of a “war” on white men.

In a 2010 speech to a Tea Party rally warned, “in a lot of ways, I’m afraid our country is in the process of committing suicide” through welfare, diversity, and a “war on men.” In particular, he was upset about businesses making an effort to hire “gals”: “In this country, can we continue to exist if we have a government that is actively discouraging businesses from hiring men? Our country is not going to survive if we continue this war on men.” In a 2009 press release on diversity programs at the University of Wisconsin, he asked, “Does the university hate white men?”

5. Wants to classify single parenthood as child abuse.

In 2012, Grothman introduced a bill that would have required state agencies to list single parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse. He later claimed that single mothers scheme to have children out of wedlock and are “trained” to say that their pregnancies are unintended. He wrote in a newsletter the same year that “the Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.”

6. Thinks low-income people are fleecing taxpayers.

In the same newsletter, Grothman writes that he “frequently” hears store clerks say that “the people on food stamps eat more generously than people not on food stamps…some may say this is harsh, but we cannot continue to have the single mom buy food that the married clerk at the food store could not afford.”

He also reported complaints that “sometimes apartments available with Section 8 vouchers are superior to apartments people pay for themselves as well as boyfriends illegally staying in these apartments.”

7. Champions voter suppression.

Grothman was the chief sponsor of a bill to limit early voting and prohibit weekend voting in Wisconsin, a direct assault on turnout efforts in Democratic-leaning districts. Grothman also proposed a measure to weaken campaign finance reporting requirements and another to make it more difficult for the elderly to seek assistance in voting, and even tried to end same-day voter registration in the state, which in 2012 had the nation’s second-highest turnout rate.

Last year, Grothman co-sponsored a bill that would weaken local courts that had ruled against voter suppression measures. He supported a state voter ID law in 2012, which he admitted he thought would help Romney “in a close race” and implied that voters without ID probably didn’t want to vote anyway. After the election, he claimed that President Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin both won their elections due to fraud.

8. Opposes water sanitation.

National Journal reports that “in 2011, Grothman sponsored a bill to do away with municipal water disinfection. For context: in 1993, a Cryptosporidium outbreak in the Milwaukee area's water supply led to the deaths of at least 69 people.”

9. Thinks Planned Parenthood is targeting Asian Americans.

In an interview last year, Grothman called Planned Parenthood “the most racist organization” in the country and suggested that it was “aggressively promoting” sex-selective abortions to Asian Americans. Last year, Grothman backed Planned Parenthood funding cuts that closed four clinics in Wisconsin. This year, he is sponsoring several bills meant to restrict access to abortion.  

10. Will not abide by Kwanzaa.

Grothman issued a press release last year declaring that “Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa -- just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans.”

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
PFAW

Florida Puts Hold on Voter Purge, North Carolina Lifts the Veil on Voter ID Law

When we last checked in with the controversial Florida voter purge, advocates and media alike were speculating over what route Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner would take in 2014, with Detzner's office considering comparing its voter records with the US Department of Homeland Security's federal citizenship database known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE). Now we know: the purge is off for 2014. Also this week, in North Carolina US Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake ruled that lawmakers must release correspondence related to the formation of the state's new voter ID law, saying that though some records might be shielded, many are considered public.
PFAW

Urgent Action Needed on Georgia Early Voting Bill on Last Day of Legislative Session

Updated March 21: Georgia's legislative session closed without final action being taken on HB 891. According to Facing South, "House sponsors declined to take up a vote on the revised bill, and HB 891 was dead." The report quotes Kelli Persons of League of Women Voters of Georgia, "The message here is that it's very important . . . to pay attention to what's happening at the local level," in reference to the bill's impact on municipal early voting.
PFAW

Milwaukee County Sheriff Warns Assault Weapons Ban Would Spark Second American Revolution

In an interview Tuesday with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke warned that a federal assault weapons ban could spark “the second coming of an American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison."

Clarke, who appeared on a CPAC panel about gun rights last weekend, became a right-wing hero last year when he advised residents to arm themselves rather than counting on calling 911.

Jones told Clarke that he had talked to “a lot of analysts” who “think that the Obama-Marxist types want to start a civil war in this country.”

“They’ve got to know what will happen if they try to confiscate guns,” he said, referring to a federal assault weapons ban.

Clarke responded that such a ban would be an “act of tyranny.”

“I believe that if somebody tried to enforce something of that magnitude, you would see the second coming of an American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison,” he said.

The national gun confiscation they are referring to is totally hypothetical: The proposed 2012 renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban would have allowed people who owned restricted weapons before the enactment of the ban to keep them.
 

Florida Senate Committee Takes Up Voting Rights Bill

SPB 7068 – which cleared a procedural hurdle on March 10 and is expected to come back before the Committee later this month – addresses a number of issues, including the use of certain drop-off locations for the submission of absentee ballots. Last year, Secretary of State Ken Detzner issued a directive against the use of some drop-off sites, such as tax collector offices and county library branches, despite their use in Pinellas County since 2008.
PFAW

Wisconsin Democracy Advocates Push Back Against Voter Suppression and Big Money in Politics

Today, under the banner of the Coalition to Protect Wisconsin Elections, a group of seventeen grassroots nonprofit organizations including People For the American Way gathered in the Wisconsin Senate Parlor to protest a batch of anti-democracy voting rights and campaign finance bills slated for Senate consideration tomorrow. The event included voters with their mouths taped shut to symbolize their voices being silenced by the proposed legislation as well as speakers from a range of progressive organizations, including PFAW regional political coordinator Scott Foval.

Speakers expressed opposition to a legislative package that will restrict access to a free and fair vote, allow unfettered spending on so-called political “issue ads,” and reduce transparency on reporting political activity in Wisconsin, including:

•  Senate Bill 324, restricting early voting hours and banning the option of weekend voting like “souls to the polls” drives organized by faith communities.

•  Senate Bill 267, making it more difficult for people to register to vote early.

•  Senate Bill 655, repealing current law to allow lobbyists to contribute directly to legislators starting April 15 of election years, even while the legislature is in session; lowering the bar for disclosing political contributions; and allowing unlimited Internet political activity without disclosure to the Government Accountability Board.

•  Assembly Bill 202, requiring poll observers to be allowed as close as three feet to poll workers, despite numerous complaints of harassing and intimidating behavior in recent elections.

Also under consideration, but not yet added to the official Senate calendar, is Senate Bill 654, which would rewrite the rules for disclosing political “issue ads” ahead of an election.  And currently seeking sponsors but not yet introduced is a bill that would eliminate same-day voter registration.

These bills could do serious damage to our democracy. In 2012, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites cast their ballots early. Several municipal clerks, who are responsible for administering elections, offered extended hours for voting to allow working people to participate in their democracy by casting their votes after work or on weekends.

In addition, the proposed new disclosure requirements would allow nearly unlimited, undisclosed political ad spending, both in broadcast and on the Internet, as well as increased allowances for solicitation activity for political bundling by political action committees and political conduits.

But “We, the People” are fighting back. Check out the video of today’s event below:

PFAW

PFAW Calls On Wisconsin Legislature to Give Voters a Choice On Big Money in Politics

MADISON – Yesterday Wisconsin State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) introduced SJR 68, a resolution that would place an advisory referendum on the November 2014 ballot calling for a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision. It is a companion resolution to AJR 50, introduced last year by State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) in the Wisconsin Assembly. People For the American Way regional political coordinator Scott Foval released the following statement:

“The people of Wisconsin deserve a chance to weigh in on the corrupting influence of corporate spending in our democracy. Wisconsinites have made it clear that money in politics is an issue they care deeply about. To date, 27 local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United have passed in counties and municipalities across Wisconsin. Thirteen more will be on local referendums in April. Just as Representative Taylor has led on this issue in the Assembly, Senator Hansen recognizes that the unbridled spending the Citizens United decision unleashed is harmful to our democracy.

“While the Republican Assembly leadership continues to block progress on AJR 50, we hope the Republican State Senate leadership will put the people first and pass SJR 68 – allowing voters to decide whether a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United is the best way to push back on corporate control of our political process. PFAW continues to stand on the side of the people and will work with our allies in Wisconsin to push for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics.”

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PFAW Applauds Effort to Repeal Same-Sex Marriage Ban in Wisconsin

MADISON – In response to today’s introduction of a resolution to repeal Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, People For the American Way regional political coordinator Scott Foval released the following statement:

“PFAW applauds State Sen. Tim Carpenter and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa for fighting to repeal a ban that's preventing thousands of Wisconsin families from accessing the legal protections they need to take care of each other.

“Adjoining states like Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa have shown that marriage equality is a basic fairness issue. Wisconsinites also re​cognize that everyone should be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”

The repeal resolution introduced by Sen. Carpenter and Rep. Zamarripa this morning strikes constitutional amendment language, originally enacted in 2006, defining marriage as solely reserved for one man and one woman.  Other states' same-sex marriage bans have recently been struck down by federal courts as violating the United States Constitution.

People For the American Way regional political coordinator Scott Foval is available for interviews with the press.  To arrange an interview, please contact sfoval@pfaw.org / 414-455-7329 or 608-469-7876.


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Wisconsin Marriage Equality Lawsuit and the Judicial Vacancy Crisis

In the Western District of Wisconsin, one of the two active federal judgeships has been vacant for five years.
PFAW

On Women’s Equality Day, Activists Recommit To Stand With Wisconsin Women at Noon Rally

To celebrate the 93rd Anniversary Women’s Equality Day on Monday, People For members joined hundreds of progressive allies on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison for the “Stand With Wisconsin Women” Rally.  The event opened with a song from the Solidarity Singalong participants, and featured Wisconsin women, activists, and legislators speaking out against the Wisconsin GOP’s war against women.

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/H2M9ovQY6nM

 

(Video credit: Scott Foval / PFAW.org)

“Thanks to the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, I will no longer pay co-pays for my birth control.  As a woman I will no longer be charged simply for being a woman, and attempting to control my own reproductive life,” said Kristina Nailen.  “I am still afraid.  I am afraid that after these nine years of accumulating debt just for my bachelors, graduating this year with 83,000 in debt before interest, that I will be able to manage my own health care and make my loan repayments.”

Nailen called on Governor Walker and the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature to reverse their decision to cut the BadgerCare program, and immediately restore health care funding and provide access to more than 100,000 Wisconsin women who count on the program for their health care coverage.

The rally also featured a roster of activists, leaders, and legislators calling for equal pay for women,  for paid family leave legislation, and endorsing the return of legislation promoting common sense, true equality, and fairness for all citizens; including working women, low wage workers, same-sex couples, disabled persons, and immigrants.  Following the rally participants entered the Wisconsin capitol building to lobby Governor Walker and members of the Wisconsin legislature, demanding they refocus on creating well-paying jobs, and stop enacting anti-woman measures as distractions from economically-focused legislation.

PFAW

Wisconsin GOP Lawmaker Argues Income Limits on School Vouchers 'Penalize Married Couples'

Wisconsin state legislators are in the final days of negotiations on a plan that would expand private school vouchers statewide (they are currently only available in Milwaukee and Racine). The current deal on the program would cap voucher enrollment at one percent of a districts students, but Gov. Scott Walker and other lawmakers would like to expand them further. That includes Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman, who told Jack Craver of The Capital Times today that not allowing wealthy families who can already afford to send their children to private school to participate in the program would “penalize married couples.”

One of the major concerns in recent years about school vouchers is that they often benefit families who already have the money to send their kids to private schools.

At the same time, the Legislature expanded the state-paid voucher program to Racine. And now, data show that nearly half of the students receiving vouchers in that city were already enrolled in private schools before the program was put in place.

But Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, an outspoken advocate for expanding vouchers to all people and all school districts, says he believes there’s a good side to higher-income families participating in the program: It promotes marriage.

“I think the major thing is we cannot allow the voucher program to penalize married couples,” he told me in a brief phone conversation Monday morning. “In Milwaukee, we raised (the limit) to 300 percent of the federal poverty line and we began to get more married couples in the program, and I don’t want to back off on that.”

The veteran legislator is worried that current negotiations over a further expansion of vouchers to other districts may result in lower income thresholds for voucher recipients and thus reduce the number of two-parent families participating in the program.

Grothman is the same state senator who authored a bill last year to label single parenthood as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

Wisconsin Republicans Try to Limit Power of Courts Blocking Their Agenda

Last week, we reported on the creative and constitutionally questionable efforts by Iowa Republicans to punish the state supreme court justices who issued the state’s landmark marriage equality ruling.

Now, Wisconsin Republicans are up to something similar, seeking to strip county circuit court judges of the ability to issue preliminary injunctions on laws that may be unconstitutional. The measure, which was introduced last month and had public hearings yesterday, is widely seen as a reaction to judicial injunctions on efforts by state Republicans to impose voter ID requirements and limit collective bargaining rights.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains:

With some of their major legislative achievements thwarted by trial courts in the past two years, Wisconsin Republicans have been looking for ways to rein in local judges, particularly in liberal areas such as Dane County.

Since 2011, circuit court judges have blocked all or parts of laws backed by Republicans that required voters to show photo ID at the polls, limited collective bargaining for public employees and expanded the governor's power over administrative rules. Under a measure announced last month, such injunctions would be automatically stayed as soon as they were appealed - meaning laws that were blocked would be put back in effect until a higher court issued a ruling.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Council is now warning that the bill is likely unconstitutional.

Incidentally, one of the bill’s sponsors is state Sen. Glenn Grothman, who last year tried to get a state public health agency to list single parenthood listed as “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
 

Common Sense Gun Solutions Struggle Against Mindless NRA and GOP Opposition

The big gun lobby and its yes men in Congress, it seems, are much more interested in protecting the loose regulations of the gun industry than they are with taking practical steps towards public safety.
PFAW
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