A Wisconsin legislator has managed to bundle nearly all of the excesses associated with dirty elections into a single bill that good government advocates are describing as a "sweeping assault on democracy:" the legislation would try reinstating restrictive voter ID requirements, make it easier for donors to secretly influence elections, expand lobbyist influence, restrict early voting, and make it harder to register, among other measures.
Governor Scott Walker seeks to "radically" overhaul Wisconsin's education system using several pieces of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation, and to do it through the budget process, meaning this privatization agenda could be enacted with minimal public discussion or debate.
The Texas-based Tea Party group True the Vote is claiming they were one of the groups inappropriately "targeted" by the IRS since their application for charitable status has been delayed for years. Although many Tea Party groups were singled-out by the IRS for improper reasons, there may be good reasons for the agency to take a close look at True the Vote's application for charitable status, particularly given the group's involvement with the Wisconsin "Verify the Recall" effort.
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected," wrote Thomas Paine in 1795.
Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. This gap in our founding document has provided an opening for the wave of voter suppression measures that swept the country in recent years, and before that, the poll taxes and Jim Crow restrictions that disenfranchised millions. This week, two Congressmen -- both from states at the epicenter of today's voting rights struggles -- are seeking to fix that.
Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an "issue advocacy" loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don't explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group's so-called "issue ads" are really intended to influence elections -- but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.
What's on the agenda for this week's meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Oklahoma City?
Hard to say.
Despite ALEC trying to spin itself as a "transparent" organization, ALEC records have miraculously been disappearing from legislative offices and the organization is engaged in a dropbox dodge to avoid disclosure. But while ALEC legislators are meeting behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists, citizens will be rallying in the streets raising awareness about how ALEC's agenda favors large corporations at the expense of average Americans.
New federal court filings allege that hundreds of thousands of Republican redistricting files in Wisconsin were deleted last year, in defiance of court orders to turn over all documents. The deletions fit into a pattern of the Wisconsin GOP covering their tracks and could result in sanctions for the attorneys or individuals involved in deleting the files.
By Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari
In a victory for working families, New York is poised to become the largest U.S. city to require businesses offer paid sick days to workers. Community activists and labor leaders struck a deal with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on a paid sick leave ordinance that would cover almost 1 million people. But workers in more than 700 other large American cities must choose between spreading their illness and getting paid.
Voters in Madison and Milwaukee have reaffirmed the state's Election Day registration law, with an overwhelming majority supporting the practice in two advisory referendums on Tuesday's ballot. Allowing voters to register on Election Day has helped Wisconsin achieve one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country -- but some state Republicans have proposed rolling back the state's highly successful law.
Ten months after beating back a recall, Governor Scott Walker continues to divide Wisconsin, with his shadow hanging over judicial races in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Dane Counties. Those normally sleepy races are also attracting new levels of outside money, and demonstrate how Walker remains a polarizing figure in the state even as he mulls a run for president.