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Testimony by WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec on Proposed Campaign Finance Deform, GAB Reorganization Bills
WISPIRG Director Peter Skopec provided the following testimony to joint legislative committee members today, who held a public hearing on the proposed gutting of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws and the dismantling of the Government Accountability Board.
WISPIRG, the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide, non-partisan advocacy group, and we represent thousands of members across the state.
On behalf of our members, I want to express our opposition to AB387 and SB292, gutting Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws; and to AB388 and SB294, dismantling the Government Accountability Board.
We’re opposed to these bills because they would give unprecedented authority to the largest donors to flood our elections with special interest money, and to do so secretly; and because these bills would get rid of the GAB and do away with any oversight or enforcement of the few remaining campaign finance rules we’d be left with.
I don’t know many Wisconsinites who want their elections to be less transparent, or who want their right to vote be less protected, or who want their elected representatives held less accountable for breaking the rules.
And I certainly don’t know any Wisconsinites who want large donors to play a bigger role in our elections. If anything, the opposite is true: 60 communities across Wisconsin are so concerned about the issue of money in politics that they’ve passed referenda and resolutions to express their view that the wrong-headed Citizens United decision should be overturned. This is a bipartisan concern -- it has nothing to do with whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. In fact, a recent Bloomberg poll found that 80 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of democrats oppose the Citizens United ruling that opened the flood gates to big money dominance in our elections.
The proposals before you will give outsized representation to those very few who can write the biggest checks, and who want their spending to influence our government to remain a secret. It will also make government far less responsive to the vast majority of Wisconsinites who can’t write those checks, and whose voices will be drowned out as a result.
We can’t keep our government responsive to the public without open, fair elections and campaign finance laws; and we can’t keep our government honest without an impartial, independent watchdog like the GAB.
As citizens, it’s our right to know what’s going on in our government and in our democracy. But this proposal even goes so far as to strike that explicit right from the preamble of the law.
This is not what the public wants or Wisconsin needs. Keep our government open, keep our elections fair, and keep the Government Accountability Board strong. Please oppose AB388 and SB294, and AB387 and SB292.
WISPIRG, the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for good government, public health and Wisconsin consumers.
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