Wisconsin

PFAW Foundation Releases Report on McCutcheon’s Impact on Campaign Spending in Eight States

Decision Could Balloon Spending In State Elections

WASHINGTON – Campaign spending in states with aggregate contribution limits will likely soon balloon in the wake of the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. FEC decision, according to a new report by People For the American Way Foundation.

The report analyzes the anticipated state impacts of the high court striking down limits on the total amount a donor can give directly to candidates, parties, and committees at the federal level in the McCutcheon ruling. It forecasts a spending explosion in states whose aggregate limits on contributions to state candidates will soon be challenged or nullified in light of the decision. Among other data, the report finds:

•        In New York, the current limit is $300,000 per two years. We estimate big donors will now be able to contribute $2,531,600 per election cycle, more than eight times the previous limit.

•        In Maryland, the current limit is $10,000 per four-year election cycle. We estimate big donors will now be able to contribute $768,000 per four-year election cycle. This is a greater than 76-fold increase.

The states analyzed in the report are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“The McCutcheon decision didn’t only undercut our federal campaign finance laws, it has ramifications for states across the country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way Foundation. “Allowing wealthy donors to put exponentially more money into state elections tilts the playing field even more starkly in their favor and strikes at the very foundation of our democracy.”

The report is available here: http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/how-supreme-courts-mccutcheon-decision-could-balloon-spending-state-electi

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Analysis: Wealthy Could Blanket Wisconsin With $6 Million In Campaign Cash Without Limits

A new analysis by a campaign finance watchdog group has revealed that wealthy donors could have flooded Wisconsin with $6 million each to candidates in 2010 and 2012 elections if the state’s $10,000 aggregate annual limit had not existed.

The Money Out/Voters In Wisconsin Coalition, of which PFAW is a member organization, highlighted the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s findings at a press conference last week reacting to the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which was announced early last month. In McCutcheon, the court struck down aggregate federal limits on the amount wealthy donors can give to candidates, political parties, and political action committees per election cycle. 

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s analysis found that without Wisconsin’s state limit of $10,000, in 2012 millionaire and billionaire donors could have given an estimated 680 times more, at least $6.8 million each to candidates in about 4,700 state and local elections, 386 PACs and 157 political committees. In 2010, the comparable number is as high as $6.1 million.

Most notably, Money Out/Voters In Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign noted that only about 299 individuals gave $10,000 or more to state candidates in 2010 and 2012—about .005 of 1% of Wisconsin’s 2012 population. That number included 173 people who don’t even live in Wisconsin.

Check out the video of the press conference here:

PFAW

Glenn Grothman Tried To Remove Woman's Life Exception From Abortion Ban, Make Women Report 'Forcible Rape' Before Obtaining Care

Glenn Grothman, a Republican Wisconsin state senator who is currently running for the US House seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Petri, says he opposes equal pay measures because he thinks “money is more important for men,” believes women’s equality amounts to a “war on men,” and once tried to classify single parenting as child abuse.

It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that Grothman has some Todd-Akin-style anti-choice politics in his past. While serving as a state assemblyman in 1997, Grothman tried – and failed – to remove language from a “partial birth” abortion ban that would have granted an exception for abortions that would save the life of a pregnant woman. That is, Grothman wanted to make it a felony punishable by life in prison for a doctor to save a woman's life by performing a certain kind of abortion.

Grothman sponsored another, successful bill in 1996 that forced women seeking abortions to undergo a 24-hour waiting period, at the time among the longest in the country, and to require doctors to read an anti-choice script to women seeking abortions. When the state senate added a rape and incest exemption to the bill, Grothman arranged to limit the exemption to cases of what he called “forcible rape” and added language that forced the rape survivor to file a police report before being allowed to skip the waiting period.

David Callender of The Capital Times reported on April 25, 1997 that Wisconsin anti-choice groups were split over whether a bill making it a felony to perform a “partial birth” abortion should exempt procedures that would save a woman’s life. One anti-choice group claimed that the exception left “things wide open for the abortionists.” Grothman, then a state assemblyman, stepped in and said he would offer an amendment to remove the life-saving exception:

A bill to ban partial-birth abortions in Wisconsin is causing a major rift among many of the state's most active anti-abortion groups.

The bill would charge doctors with a Class A felony for performing the procedure, which could mean life in prison for offenders.

That's OK with both groups, but they are bitterly divided over an exemption in the bill that would allow doctors to perform the procedure in order to save the mother's life.

Groups such as Wisconsin Right to Life and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference support the exemption. They contend the exception is needed for the bill to pass constitutional muster as well as to insure political support among lawmakers who generally support abortion rights.

On Thursday, the Assembly Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee approved the bill -- with the exemption -- by a 12-2 vote, with the opposition coming from Madison Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin and David Travis. The bill will likely come before the Assembly during the May floor period.

But a leading anti-abortion lawmaker, Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said he will probably introduce an amendment that would delete the mother's life exception.

That deletion is being sought by Pro-Life Wisconsin, the Pro-Life Coalition, Collegians Activated to Liberate Life, and other conservative anti-abortion groups that identify themselves as ``100 percent pro-life.''

Without the change, "this bill leaves things wide open for the abortionists,'' said Dave Ostendorf, a spokesman for the Pro-Life Coalition.

True to his word, Grothman did offer an amendment that would remove the exemption that allowed a doctor to perform a “partial birth” abortion if it would save the life of the pregnant woman. Grothman’s amendment was eventually withdrawn without being put to a vote, but not before the extremism of his anti-choice positions was put on display.

In the other case, Grothman was the primary sponsor of a bill imposing a waiting period for women seeking an abortion and requiring abortion providers to read an anti-choice script to women seeking care, which at the time was one of the toughest in the nation. Grothman justified the bill by saying, “In many cases, women are looking for someone to talk them out of it,” and claiming that many women “have been badgered into [abortions] by their husbands and boyfriends,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“The purpose of this bill is to be sensitive to women,'' he said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

John Nichols of The Capital Times summarized the bill in July, 1995:

The so-called "Woman's Right to Know'' bill would, if passed, require a physician to meet in person twice with a woman seeking an abortion before performing the procedure. During those meetings, the doctor would be required to offer the woman an ultrasound reading, a fetal heartbeat report and photographs showing the development of a fetus.

The doctor would also be required to describe the abortion procedure in graphic detail and detail possible risks -- even though there is no requirement that the doctor inform the woman of the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term. The doctor would even have to provide information about risks not proven to exist.

The doctor would also have to conclude not only that the woman has been fully informed, but also that her decision to have the abortion is completely voluntary -- even though a physician would have no way of knowing whether this is so. Doctors could be punished legally for failing to do so.

The state assembly passed Grothman’s bill without excemptions for rape and incest survivors. Grothman claimed that in cases of incest, “These women above all, need this extra protection.” He added, “We're victimizing women not to provide them with information at this time," according to the La Crosse Tribune.

After the state senate added a rape and incest exemption to the bill, Grothman introduced an amendment limiting the exemption to cases of what he called “forcible rape” – excluding statutory rape of minors – and allowing rape survivors to skip the 24-hour waiting period only if they could confirm to the doctor that they had first filed a police report. The amendment added the same reporting requirement for pregnancy in the case of incest involving a minor, but added a two-hour waiting period.

The assembly approved the bill with Grothman’s changes and Gov. Tommy Thompson signed it.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that an earlier Grothman amendment, which was initially passed, but then replaced once legislators realized what it contained, “would have required doctors to wait until a formal criminal complaint was filed before granting an abortion in cases of rape and incest” meaning that survivors would have to “wait weeks, instead of one day, to get an abortion.”

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. [Update: On April 11, Petri announced that he would retire]. 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.
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