The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a Tea Party challenge to proposed election spending disclosure rules. While billed as a case involving free speech and a possible response to the post-Citizens United campaign landscape, the outcome may be decided on more mundane grounds of whether the state elections board acted within its statutory authority.
The Center for Media and Democracy has joined a diverse coalition of groups in an online protest of the made-up notion that "money is speech" and that corporations have a "free speech right" to distort democracy with unlimited spending.
More than 56 groups have taken to the airwaves this summer telling Wisconsin citizens how to vote, and now it's down to the wire. The first recall election is Tuesday, where six Republicans senators will have their positions challenged.
The recall elections are a result of a movement of state citizens upset with what many have called Governor Scott Walker's radical efforts to limit the rights of workers in the state and the recently signed GOP budget, which included severe cuts to public education and safety-net programs. Citizens have pushed to have the Republican senators who voted for these measures removed from office. Two Democratic senators will also face recall on August 16th. The Democrats will have to win at least three Republican seats next week to take back control of the State Senate.
While the sounds of daily protest at the Wisconsin Capitol building from the spring's mass demonstrations have faded, the TV ad war in the state Senate recall elections prove the heated political climate in the state has not cooled.
August Recalls Heat Up
Six Wisconsin Republican senators will face recall on August 9th. The special elections resulted from demands that legislators who went along with Governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill and drastic budget cuts be removed from office. Republicans have countered these elections by launching recalls against two Democratic senators, scheduled for August 16th.
The White House is circulating a draft Executive Order requiring disclosure of contributions to "third party" or "independent" expenditure groups by corporations receiving government contracts. During the 2010 elections, much of the unlimited election spending made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision was kept secret by groups taking advantage of the 501(c) section of the tax code. The President's proposed order would lift the veil on secret spending in time for the 2012 elections.
The Utah-based "American Patriot Recall Coalition" (APRC) registered recall committees online February 18 for eight of the 14 "AWOL" Wisconsin Democratic senators, leaving the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) -- and many Wisconsinites -- with raised eyebrows.
"Any group from anywhere can register a recall committee, however that group must have a local person who lives in the district of the officeholder who's being recalled," explained Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Public Information Officer Reid Magney.
MADISON--The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has filed a brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court defending proposed disclosure rules passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, rules that are being challenged by the Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity. In the brief, CMD also questions whether rights granted by Wisconsin's Constitution can be legitimately extended to corporations.
America's Future Now! -- the biggest progressive conference of the year organized by Campaign for America’s Future -- convenes June 7-9 in Washington, DC. Join Lisa Graves, Mary Bottari, and Dave Johnson from the Center for Media and Democracy as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alan Grayson, Arianna Huffington, Markos Moulitsas, Van Jones, Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Richard Trumka, Andy Stern, Bob Herbert, Juan Cole, Digby, Deepak Bhargava, James Rucker, Drew Westen, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Robert Kuttner, Lizz Winstead and thousands more.
Progressives must lead to make sure 2010 is not the year of the Tea Party. Jobs, financial reform, clean energy, clean elections, fair workplaces, civil liberties, health care and human rights are at all stake. Let's show Washington that progressives now how to fight!