Wisconsin ethics commission votes to allow members to contribute to state campaigns

Jay Heck, Common Cause in Wisconsin

By Jay Heck, Common Cause in Wisconsin

This week, the newly-constituted partisan Wisconsin Ethics Commission voted 4-2 to allow its members to make political contributions to state candidates for election.

This is insanity.

As Ethics Commission member Robert Kinney, a former Oneida County circuit judge, argued, “it’s a matter of perception and public confidence.”

“We have, right now, people claiming that elections are rigged,” Kinney said. “We don’t want to create a situation where there’s less confidence in government, less confidence in fairness, less confidence in nonpartisanship.”

Kinney and Republican Pat Strachota, the former Assembly majority leader, effectively voted against allowing contributions according to an AP article about the vote.

But much shame on Peg Lautenschlager, the former Democratic Attorney General, for voting against the ban on contributions from the partisan commissioners.

As well as to Democratic, hyper-partisan attorney, David Halbrooks, Republican Party partisan Katie McCallum and former Republican state Senator and Waukesha County Judge Mac Davis for their support of allowing commission members to make contributions.

Just how stupid do they think Wisconsinites are?

The nonpartisan retired judges, who comprised the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board prior to June 30 did not make political contributions to candidates for state office. But these commissioners, by a 4-2 vote, decided “it’s fine.”

No, it isn’t.

How far we have fallen, so quickly.

Wisconsinites already have very little confidence in the newly-constituted, hyper-partisan GAB to effectively oversee elections, campaign finance law, ethics and lobbying in Wisconsin, which was formed by Republican legislators and Gov. Scott Walker after they destroyed the nonpartisan GAB late last year.

This latest decision destroys what little confidence there may have been.

Common Cause in Wisconsin is a non-partisan, nonprofit citizen’s lobby that focuses on campaign finance, election and lobby reform, open meetings law and other issues concerning the promotion and maintenance of “clean,” open, responsive and accountable government.