McCallum to Legislative Leaders: All Campaign Reform Ideas Should Be On Table

(Except Ellis Bill)

April 5, 2002

Madison - Governor Scott McCallum’s admonition to Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala to "roll up their sleeves" and work out a campaign reform package rings hollow because of the governor’s insistence that no taxpayer dollars be used in the reforms, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said today.

In his letter to Jensen and Chvala, Governor McCallum said, "I believe all ideas must be on the table with one exception: The state should not use taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns."

WDC executive director Mike McCabe said, "It’s like the governor is saying 'let’s make some bread, but you can’t use any flour.'"

McCallum’s exception would rule out consideration of the leading comprehensive campaign reform measure, Senate Bill 104, authored by Neenah Republican Mike Ellis, McCabe said. For that matter, setting such a condition would rule out the enactment of any reform legislation that limits campaign spending or meaningfully addresses the influence of special interests over the political process.

"Without public financing of campaigns, you can’t give the people of Wisconsin what they clearly want - enforceable spending limits on campaigns," McCabe said, noting that 90 percent of referendum voters said they want limits on campaign spending. "Without public financing, candidates will continue to be entirely reliant on special interest donations to fund their campaigns. And without the public matching grants the Ellis bill calls for, they’ll be completely powerless to respond to the issue ad groups that are hijacking campaigns."

He added, "If the governor’s idea of reform became law, there wouldn’t be a dime’s worth of difference between the reformed system and the corrupt one we have now. The average voter is not going to see unlimited campaign spending bankrolled by the wealthiest special interests as reform."