Wisconsin's newly created commission charged with overseeing
the state's ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws voted
Tuesday to allow its six partisan appointees to continue
making donations to the very candidates they are regulating,
rejecting a proposal to ban such giving.
allows members of the Ethics Commission to give to partisan
candidates, and the three Democrats and three Republicans on
the panel have donated in the past. Two commissioners who
wanted a ban on such donations said continuing to give money
would look bad. They were outvoted, 4-2, by commissioners
who said their votes would not be swayed based on political
donations they've made.
don't want to be limited in giving contributions," said
Democratic Milwaukee attorney David Halbrooks. "I don't
think it will ever affect my analysis."
Democrat Robert Kinney, a former Oneida County circuit
judge, argued that "it's a matter of perception and
have, right now, people claiming that elections are
rigged," he said. "We don't want to create a
situation where there's less confidence in government, less
confidence in fairness, less confidence in
Republican Pat Strachota, the former Assembly majority
leader, effectively voted against allowing contributions.
Technically, the vote was on whether to table motions that
would have included banning donations.
was joined by former Democratic Attorney General Peg
Lautenschlager, state Republican Party secretary Katie
McCallum and former Republican state senator and Waukesha
County Judge Mac Davis in voting to table the motions,
thereby allowing contributions to continue as state law
said banning donations wouldn't protect the commission from
criticism of being partisan, calling it a "farcical
kind of a rule."
out actions and not necessarily whether we decide we will or
won't make campaign contributions that will be the measure
of whether this commission works," she said.
Strachota said she assumed when she took the post that she
wouldn't be able to make donations and that's what the
does bar staff members for the new Ethics and Elections
commissions from donating to political candidates and
causes. But the commission members, whose partisan
affiliations are public, are free to give as they see fit.
All six members of the Ethics Commission have made donations
to candidates in recent years, campaign finance records
commissions were created by the Republican-controlled
Legislature replace the Government Accountability Board,
which was comprised of retired judges. State law prohibited
them from donating while they were on the board.