It was the night of February 5th, 2012. I was getting ready to publicly testify on Assembly Bill 196 in the Committee on Election and Campaign Reform. What this bill does is make it so that the GAB or Government Accountability Board cannot make any rules that effect corporations. In essence this opens the door to limitless money with little or, more likely, no disclosure at all.
As activists the “core group” comes into the Capitol and attends meetings on a daily basis. Every committee meeting the deck is stacked. Every committee meeting, with very few exceptions, what the public or the minority party says is completely disregarded. As activists we often feel a disconnect from those who very publicly disagree with what we do but have never witnessed a committee meeting. It’s an eye opener.
Legislators fiddling with phones and going in the back room to chat and talk while people are speaking. Legislators absent during public hearings. Most of these legislators have very few things they have to be at. They have no set hours and some work full time while others work very part time. But it seems too much to ask, for them to sit down and actually listen and pay attention for six hours. And both parties do it. This complete abandonment of their duties of office is what the critics don’t see.
Fortunately for us, despite the criticisms and many people who take mere disagreements and turn them into personal issues, we keep fighting. Day after day, we come back. We show up. The legislators are not used to people showing up, but we do. Our constant presence puts pressure on them, pressure that seems to be working as both Representative Kleefisch and Senator Fitzgerald have thrown tantrums on the floor. Senator Fitzgerald’s blow up may not have been directly addressed to the protesters but the constant presence of opposition seems to be throwing many of the legislators off.
So I made the decision. I was going to take it a step further.
I looked at the Campaign Finance Reports of every member of the committee I was going to testify in front of. I then made spreadsheets and filed complaints for errors and violations of Chapter 11.06 of the State Statutes which states that all contributions over $100 in a year from any one person must disclose employer and occupation. The penalty for violating this, is a $500 fine per instance, but there’s a catch.
The GAB, or Government Accountability Board, does not look at Campaign Finance Reports. Instead they put them up for everyone to see in the Campaign Finance Information System (CFIS). They rely on people to make complaints, and if they don’t get complaints, they don’t check reports.
I spent the entire night combing through hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years. I noticed many abnormalities, more specifically, there were many reports with small donations of $.50 to $20 from Kwik Trip Employees across the nation. I will continue to look into this. The other abnormality I noticed was that very few legislators actually reported them. By the time morning hit on February 6th, I had my complaints ready.
I made ten copies of five complaints and I then proceeded to the GAB to file them. After filing them I went straight to the public hearing. I handed my packet of complaints to each legislator, and I then explained how they could not possibly regulate rules effectively if they cannot even follow the very simple rules set forth for them. The next day I filed six more complaints, mostly key players in the WI fascist regime. I was on a roll.
At that point I decided to audit the reports of the entire GOP Assembly and Senate, and a couple select others. All in all I found violations with 38 of the Republican legislators as well as one independent who caucuses with the GOP (Ziegelbauer) and one Democrat who should (Zepnick). I also audited Mike Huebsch, former ALEC State Chair and current Secretary of the Department of Administration, as he is the one behind the policy that they have not yet enforced that you need a permit to protest in a group of four or more.
Altogether, 41 complaints were filed.
I had also combed through the reports of every GOP legislator that I did not file a complaint on, some of them did have compliant reports. Most of these complaints had multiple errors in one complaint. Alberta Darling, chair of the Joint Committee On Finance, had listed unknown for employer and occupation thinking that that would suffice. But I also am taking it a step further. I am posting this link with my workbook and all 41 complaints. This represents over a hundred hours of non stop campaign finance report digging.
In the Excel workbook you will see different spreadsheets, these already have the information on them. Just go from tab to tab and print one out for each legislator. Next, change my info to yours in the word files, get it notarized, and send it in. It’s not a real long process, I have already done most of the work, but it is vital that as many people file these complaints as possible.
I will continue with these audits by moving on to the Supreme Court candidates in our state. So as we celebrate the one year anniversary of the week that started it all, we must continue our fight. One day longer! One day stronger!
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Note: Segway Jeremy Ryan has become a full-time member of the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Formerly a businessman, he gave up his business to join the fight for the middle class in the State of Wisconsin. Through videos and writings he has informed hundreds of thousands of people about what was going on at the Wisconsin State Capitol once the mainstream media had mostly abandoned the protests. His full-time activism is completely funded by the people. If you would like to help out please click here.