Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fundraising Ban Widely Effective, BUT. . .

A review of campaign finance reports filed so far shows widespread adherence to a rule banning campaign fundraising by members of the Assembly during the state budget process.

However, if the reports accurately reflect when the contributions were received, four Assembly representatives violated the ban in effect during legislative action on the 2009-11 budget. The reports filed as of early Thursday cover fundraising and spending activity in the first six months of 2008 by about one-fourth of the Assembly.

The Assembly ban approved in February called on its 99 members not to accept or solicit any campaign contributions for themselves or other campaign committees beginning the day the budget bill is introduced in the legislature, which was February 17, and ending on the date it is presented to the governor, which was June 29.

Democrats Fred Clark of Baraboo and Ted Zigmunt of Francis Creek accepted $600 and $2,050 in contributions, respectively, on February 17. Republican Rich Zipperer of Pewaukee accepted $450 in contributions February 17 and Republican Keith Ripp of Lodi accepted a $57.80 in-kind contribution June 25.

Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton received $3,025 before the ban and a $50 contribution on June 16 which she returned to the contributor.

A report filed by veteran Democrat Robert Turner of Racine shows he raised $11,065 in individual and political action committee contributions from March 24 through April 24. But the ban allowed Assembly members to accept contributions to run for other elected offices. Turner unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Racine in a May 5 special election.

Republican Kevin Petersen of Waupaca made $1,610 in in-kind contributions and a personal loan to his campaign during the ban.

The Democracy Campaign found numerous Assembly members got contributions before the ban took effect, according to their campaign reports. Democrat Mark Radcliffe of Black River Falls accepted $1,880 in contributions February 13 and 14 and Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville accepted $500 February 2. Republicans Bill Kramer of Waukesha got $500, Robin Vos of Racine got $4,525 and Jim Ott of Mequon and Gary Tauchen of Bonduel each raised $100 - all before the ban.

So far, representatives who reported getting no individual or PAC contributions during the entire six-month period are:

Republican Representatives Dan Meyer of Eagle River, Roger Roth of Appleton, Samantha Kerkman of Genoa City, Richard Spanbauer of Oshkosh, Don Friske of Merrill, Mark Gottlieb of Port Washington and Pat Strachota of West Bend;

Democratic Representatives Jim Soletski of Green Bay, David Cullen of Milwaukee, Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids, Mary Hubler of Rice Lake, Chuck Benedict of Beloit and Joe Parisi and Spencer Black, both of Madison.


Robert Doeckel said...

"The Democracy Campaign found numerous Assembly members got contributions before the ban took effect"

I'm not really seeing why this is worth a mention. Isn't that playing by the rules?

Anonymous said...

Im not sure I see the infraction here. With the possible exception of Ripp, although what type of event could he have that required an inkind, but had no donors? The budget was introduced the evening of the 17th. Are you suggesting that these three members had fundraising events that night? Isn't it far more plausible that they received checks prior to that date and simply deposited them on the 17th? I'm all for clean elections and open records but this just seems like a hit job on your part. I really do expect better from this organization.

Anonymous said...

The Democracy Campaign is nothing more than a shill for Democrats. If not, then why haven't they turned themselves inside out over the Assembly Democrats plan to hold a Caucus fundraiser during the ban. Sure, they squalked to save face but it was nothing compared to how they filet Republicans. Democrats say it didn't break the letter of the law....c'mon, if this group stands against campaign finance abuses they should hold everything the Democrats and Mike Sheridan are doing in contempt based on what they tried to do to skirt the rules.

But they won't.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, this seems unfair. If you want to say that the system is so complicated lawyers and legislators can't keep it straight, I'd buy that. To imply that this list of legislators are somehow complicit in wrongdoing is not only not supported by the evidence, but undermines your organization's ability to speak truth to the real problems with influence in government. I think you owe these legislators an apology and the public a promise to be more careful in the future.