Robin Vos Tips His Hand on Campaign Finance

March 3, 2015

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos spoke at Marquette University Law School on Friday, February 27, and he tipped his hand about his plans are for rewriting the state’s campaign finance law, as well as the law on John Doe investigations, and the statute on the Government Accountability Board.

Vos was speaking at a conference entitled “Campaign Finance Regulation in Wisconsin: The Law as It Was, Is, Should Be, and Will Be.”

He left little doubt where he stood. He said our campaign finance laws have had a “cancerous effect.” And he said he favored the “least possible restrictions” on campaign contributions and expenditures because, he said, he wants “to allow the marketplace of ideas to work.”

“I want a complete rewrite of Chapter 11,” he said, referring to the chapter in the Wisconsin statutes that governs campaign finance. “I want to get something done so it can be implemented fully by the next election.”

Vos was on a panel with Peter Barca, the Democratic Minority Leader in the Assembly. Mike Gousha was moderating the conversation, and he asked Speaker Vos whether he agreed with the second sentence of Chapter 11, which states that “excessive spending on campaigns for public office jeopardizes the integrity of elections.”

“I don’t agree with that,” said Vos. “Government is the biggest speaker in every aspect of our lives,” he asserted, arguing that we should “let private individuals band together” to get their views across without interference. He said he doesn’t believe it’s the government’s role to say, “We’re going to limit your speech.”

Vos said there was a “bias in the statutes” that allows unions to participate in elections but not businesses. “Let everyone donate to political parties,” he said. “Corporations, businesses, LLCs can’t do that. That’s not fair. I want to level the playing field.”

Vos said he was for “greatly increasing the limits” on donations to candidates and parties, or have no limits at all.