No More Excuses! Ethics Reform Has Enough Votes

Analysis shows reform bill has bipartisan majority support in both houses

November 15, 2006

Madison - A clear majority of Wisconsin’s newly elected state Legislature supports a bill to replace the state elections and ethics boards with a tougher and more politically independent enforcement agency to investigate and punish violations of state campaign finance and ethics laws, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.

A WDC review found 52 of 99 Assembly members and 29 of 33 Senate members have voted for or have publicly declared their support for such a proposal – introduced as Senate Bill 1 in the current session of the Legislature. Democratic Governor Jim Doyle has pledged to sign such a measure if it is approved by the Legislature.

WDC’s projection is based on legislative candidate responses to an ethics survey the Democracy Campaign conducted with Common Cause in Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters last summer, as well as votes cast in November 2005 by the Senate and May 2006 by the Assembly that showed who supported and who opposed SB 1.

Those criteria show 81 Democratic and Republican legislators, or 61 percent of its 132 members, support SB 1. Here is the breakdown in each house:

Senate Republicans: Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Joseph Leibham, Sheila Harsdorf, Neal Kedzie, Scott Fitzgerald, Luther Olsen, Dale Schultz, Carol Roessler, Michael Ellis, Mary Lazich, Dan Kapanke and Theodore Kanavas (13).

Senate Democrats: Tim Carpenter, Jim Sullivan, Spencer Coggs, Jeff Plale, Roger Breske, Judith Robson, Mark Miller, John Lehman, Robert Wirch, Patrick Kreitlow, Julie Lassa, Robert Jauch, Fred Risser, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen and Kathleen Vinehout (16).

Assembly Republicans: Sheryl Albers, Brett Davis, J.A. Hines, Dean Kaufert, Terry Musser and Steve Wieckert (6).

Assembly Democrats: Chuck Benedict, Terese Berceau, Spencer Black, Frank Boyle, Pedro Colon, David Cullen, Jason Fields, Philip Garthwaite, Tamara Grigsby, Barbara Gronemus, Gary Hebl, Steve Hilgenberg, Gordon Hintz, Kim Hixson, Mary Hubler, Andy Jorgensen, Frederick Kessler, James Kreuser, Peggy Krusick, Cory Mason, Louis Molepske, Thomas Nelson, Joseph Parisi, Mark Pocan, Sondy Pope-Roberts, Jon Richards, Marlin Schneider, Donna Seidel, Michael Sheridan, Gary Sherman, Jennifer Shilling, Christine Sinicki, Jeffrey Smith, Jim Soletski, Tony Staskunas, John Steinbrink, Barbara Toles, David Travis, Robert Turner, Terry Van Akkeren, Amy Sue Vruwink, Sheldon Wasserman, Polly Williams, Leon Young, Josh Zepnick and Bob Ziegelbauer (46).

The criteria showed four Democratic and Republican state senators and 38 Republican Assembly members consistently opposed tougher ethics and campaign finance law enforcement.

The vote of nine newly elected Assembly members – one Democrat and eight Republicans – could not be determined because they did not explicitly answer the question or reply to the survey and they have no voting record on SB 1. They are: Democrat Ann Hraychuck and Republicans John Murtha, Bill Kramer, John Nygren, Jim Ott, Kevin Petersen, Roger Roth Jr., Gary Tauchen and Rich Zipperer.

Omitted from the list of supporters are Republicans Frank Lasee and Al Ott, who voted in favor of a failed attempt to have the Assembly act on SB 1 last May but later officially switched their votes to oppose bringing the proposal to the floor.

Also omitted from the list of lawmakers who support ethics reform is Assembly Republican Eugene Hahn who sponsored SB 1 but then voted four times against efforts to act on the proposal and did not reply to the ethics survey.