Barbara Lawton, Dale Schultz Decry Money in Politics

Posted: May 14, 2015
Updated: May 18, 2015

Dale Schultz and Barbara Lawton
Dale Schultz and Barbara Lawton.
Video available below.

Two prominent political figures, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, decried the poisonous effects of money in our political system last night.

Barbara Lawton, former Lieutenant Governor under Democrat Jim Doyle, and Dale Schultz, former Republican Majority Leader of the State Senate, were the featured speakers at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The meeting was held at the Lussier Family Heritage Center in Madison, and was attended by 150 people.

Lawton denounced the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which has led to the rise of the single-donor Super PAC. “The top one-one-hundredths of the 1 percent gave 40 percent of the campaign contributions in 2012,” she said.

“The big money people are creating their own primaries,” said Lawton, citing the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Tom Steyer, George Soros, and Michael Bloomberg. “It’s a bipartisan problem.”

The candidates that win these primaries are then dependent on the billionaire donors. “This shows how irrelevant the candidate and office-holder is becoming,” she said.

She warned of the “technobillionaires,” who have no allegiance to community or country but believe they are members of the “Twitter Tribe” that transcends borders.

“Money in politics is the biggest threat to our democracy,” she said, adding, “We must build a broad-based constituency for reform.”

Schultz agreed with Lawton, saying he sees the connections between getting money out of politics and being able to enact good public policy along a range of issues.

Schultz noted that the national Republican Party has “lurched to the right in a way that is almost indescribable.” He wondered what Abe Lincoln would think of the efforts to disenfranchise voters, or what Teddy Roosevelt would think about the lack of concern for our environment, or what Dwight Eisenhower would think of the ostracization of moderate Republicans, or what Ronald Reagan would think about the demonization of Democrats.

In Wisconsin, Schultz said he was concerned about the assaults on our “fragile institutions that have served us so well for so long.”

For one, he mentioned the University of Wisconsin, alluding to Scott Walker’s attempt to take the “search for truth” out of the mission of the university. “The search for truth is important,” said Schultz. “We will not tolerate a deviation from that great principle.”

He also came to the defense of K-12 public education. “I can’t think of anything more important than public education,” he said. “Public education is one of the great levelers. It gives everyone a fair chance at a decent life. We cannot let it go.”

Lawton ended the program with a call for the reform community to broaden the pro-democracy coalition. “Money in politics is not a partisan issue,” she stressed. And she underlined its importance: “It is inextricably linked to long-term structural inequality --political and economic--if left unchecked.”

Videos

Videos courtesy of WisCoMedia.

Barbara Lawton

Barbara Lawton

Dale Schultz

Dale Schultz