With a goal to significantly modify the state campaign finance laws, Republicans have introduced a three-part bill to the Wisconsin State Legislature on which the Assembly is scheduled to vote Tuesday.
Despite receiving much criticism from Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, have laid out a comprehensive plan that would enable political action committees to spend an unlimited amount of money on campaigns and allow donors to give unlimited amounts of money to campaign committees.
While the bill mainly focuses on tweaking state campaign finance laws, the piece of legislation also exonerates politicians from John Doe corruption investigations, according to a Common Cause press release.
Some have claimed that the John Doe investigations, which look at extortion, corruption and other violations, have been detrimentally unnecessary for politicians.
“The Wisconsin John Doe shows how campaign-finance laws have become a liberal weapon to silence political opponents. Prosecutors claim to be fighting the risk of corruption from ‘dark money’ in politics. But their enforcement attempts, done in secret and unrestrained by Constitutional guardrails, have become far more politically corrupting,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote in a piece published earlier last year.
The last portion of the proposed bill calls for a revision on who the state’s ethics watchdog will be. As of now, the Government Accountability Board serves as Wisconsin’s watchdog, but Republicans have expressed desire to replace the board through political appointees.
Advocates of the bill claim that it will deregulate the current restrictive campaign funding system, allow an unlimited amount of money to be devoted to more issues and limit partisan behavior by watchdog agencies.
Despite the Republican fast-track approach, Democrats heavily oppose the statute, saying it limits transparency between the citizens of Wisconsin and the government, and may produce widespread corruption.
“[Republicans] are focused on reducing transparency, oversight and accountability of elected officials and campaigns, while opening the door for corruption and trying to rig the political system in their favor,” state Rep. Amanda Stuck, D-Appleton, said in a press release.