Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Swiss Banks Of Wisconsin Politics

Swiss banks are known the world over as the place to stash ill-gotten gains, keep questionable finances one step ahead of the law or otherwise stockpile riches with no questions asked.

So-called "issue ad" groups are their political equivalent.

We've been updating the Hijacking Election 2008 section of our web site pretty much daily as we learn of new under-the-radar smear campaigns in state legislative races being run by groups like All Children Matter and Building a Stronger Wisconsin. They are creating a traffic jam on the low road, stuffing mailboxes and in some cases filling the airwaves in key battleground districts with paint-by-numbers attacks. All Children Matter assails Democratic candidates, claiming they all support health care benefits for illegal aliens. Building a Stronger Wisconsin attacks Republicans on the grounds that they don't care about school kids and rape victims.

The money raised to fund these smears is not disclosed to the public. Voters have been kept entirely in the dark about who's paying for this gutter campaigning.

Four groups – Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Greater Wisconsin Committee, Club for Growth and the Coalition for America's Families – raised and spent two out of every three dollars in the last two state Supreme Court elections and accounted for nearly 90 percent of the television advertising in this year's race.

Voters have been given no clue about where the money came from to pay for all those ads either.

Electioneering by trade associations, lobbying organizations and party front groups abounds in state elections now, and who pays the bills is a secret.

It's secret because of a gaping loophole allowing special interest groups to operate outside the laws requiring disclosure and limiting political contributions. To operate like Swiss banks. And in so doing, to effectively take the "r" out of free speech.

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