Wisconsin has been, for the last year, ground zero in the fight against ALEC and corporate run or fascist government. As activists, we are thrown new challenges every day. Just when you think they “won’t go there,” they do. A few of the things we have fought just this session alone include; classifying non married parents as a risk factor for abuse, ending equal pay, declaring war on a sovereign nation, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Day in and day out horrible bills are created, railroaded through, and rubber stamped. I would go as far as to say that the legislature and administration will bend over backwards, on the backs of the people, to serve any and all corporate interests. For the people on the ground in the Wisconsin State Capitol, this has been an ongoing struggle. We are but citizens fighting a giant corporate and legislative machine. In some states this may seem strange. But here in Wisconsin, we have had a long tradition of bipartisan and transparent politics.
Often when fighting something so complex, we find ourselves wondering, how can we keep fighting? Every day we are on the defensive. The legislators have months to plan a bill. The people are so often left with just twenty four hours to come up with an argument for or against the bill. That’s when I decided to go back to the basics. I was preparing for my public testimony against a bill that would eliminate all campaign finance laws, but only for corporations. I also heard talk of a bill that would eliminate the Campaign Finance Information System, a system which stores any and all filings with the Government Accountability Board. This includes campaign finance reports. Fortunately, this bill will likely never pass, but it still left me wondering why one would want to stop allowing electronic viewing of campaign finance reports.
I could only think of one reason why one would want to do that. And that reason was that they have something to hide. It was then that I got so upset I came up with an idea. I downloaded all of the campaign finance reports from 2010-2012 for every member of the Assembly committee in charge of handling election issues. I then looked for anything abnormal. Being Executive Director of a PAC, and having run campaigns before, I was acquainted with campaign finance law. Out of all the campaign finance laws, however, there is one that is the most complained about by candidates and donors alike. This would be WI State Statute 11.06 (b). This clause is simple. It states that all donations over $100 must include employer or occupation. As simple as it seems it does cause many issues. Defending Wisconsin PAC has even had to return donations before because people refused to provide this.
But as I scrolled, report by report, contribution by contribution, I noticed a strong trend. A trend of complete non compliance with this reporting requirement. Not only was it a trend, but the majority of Republican committee members failed to even follow this simple rule. I should also note that Wisconsin State Statutes state that the penalty for ignoring this rule is $500 per contribution. I should also note that the law only required them to request the information. If they request it, however, they must notate that they requested the information. The Republicans in the legislature seem to be able to do neither. Over the next month I looked at the reports of every Republican member of the legislature. The result was astounding. Forty one legislators got complaints, most receiving multiple complaints.
But I didn’t stop there. Over the next month I looked over the reports of every justice on the Supreme Court. You would think Supreme Court Justices would have flawless reports. They are, after all, judges. In most cases you would be correct in assuming that. Actually in all cases except State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. You may remember him from April when he “won” the election due to 14,000 votes popping almost out of mid air. That was followed by a recount and although he was declared the winner, nothing was actually determined. The reason for this was that in Waukesha County, many tag numbers didn’t match bag numbers and other bags were wide open. And although they were never able to prove that the ballots were not tampered with, Prosser was declared the winner. You may also remember him from when he called the Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson, a bitch. Or when he put his hand around Justice Bradley’s neck after refusing to leave HER office when asked.
Along with being the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s most temperamental and violent justice, Prosser is also the only one who couldn’t follow simple campaign finance law. His Supreme Court Committee had two errors. His recount fund, however, had forty eight. I then went on to Wisconsin Right to Life PAC, a small PAC by donation standards but a large one by political influence. This PAC has been the subject of many fraud allegations and complaints from their expenditure spending that included sending fake absentee ballots and telling people false information through robo calls, in an attempt to get them to avoid voting. They had five violations including one report that had a total of three entries, one of them being an error. It makes sense why they would have such a hard time avoiding election fraud when they can’t even get a three entry report correct.
At this point I was feeling pretty good. I had leveled hundreds of thousands of dollars in complaints. But it couldn’t stop there. At this point I made a decision, I was going to take on the Big Kahuna. The Republican Party of Wisconsin. As I started I realized why no one had looked at these reports before. They were hundreds of pages long and there were more reports than any of the candidates had. I took on the task, hour by hour, page by page, contribution by contribution. And I boldly went where no man had gone before. The result was astounding. Over three hundred hours later, I have finished their reports. And they didn’t have 100 violations.They were even above 200. In the end, I had found 662 illegally reported contributions. That’s $331,000 in complaints. But it is up to you to help make sure they receive them. My complaint was filed today. On this link you will find a zip folder. In it are the excel spreadsheets of Prosser then another file for the RPW and Wisconsin Right to Life. There is also a word document from each. Please print the spreadsheets then open the word documents. All you have to do then is change my name and info to yours, get it notarized, and send it in.
The Government Accountability Board does not check campaign finance reports. They instead rely on citizens to check and make complaints. If citizens do not do this then no one ever has to report anything. But I have called their bluff and gone through the tedious work. It is now ready to be continued. It is up to all of us to clean our elections. And we must continue fighting.
One day longer! One day stronger!
Defending Wisconsin PAC
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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.