United Wisconsin Statement on newly released video of Senator Mike Ellis describing illegal fundraising scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 4/9/14

Madison – United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck released the following statement regarding a hidden camera recording released Wednesday by conservative group Project Veritas. Republican state Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) was caught on camera discussing the creation of an illegal SuperPAC to attack his Democratic challenger, State Representative Penny Bernard Schaber. Campaign law forbids candidates from coordinating with outside groups that run shady “issue ads” supporting or opposing candidates.

“What Senator Ellis describes is an illegal fundraising scheme and an example of politics at its worst. This is exactly the type of illegal campaign coordination at the center of the ongoing John Doe probe surrounding Governor Walker.

Ellis’s reported plan exposes just how vulnerable our democracy is to corruption at the hands of special interest groups that have been given the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. The recording released today further highlights the need for meaningful campaign finance reform, beginning with the reversal of Citizens United.

Only once we have stopped the unlimited flow of special interest money into our elections will we be able to fully trust that our elected officials are working for the people whom they are elected to represent.”

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

Click here to view the video.

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Statement on Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4/2/14

MADISON – United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck released the following statement regarding today’s United States Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC. The ruling strikes down aggregate limits on individual contributions to federal candidates, political parties, and committees, claiming the limits are unconstitutional.

The case, commonly dubbed Citizens United 2.0 in reference to the Supreme Court’s landmark and highly controversial 5-4 decision in 2010 which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate election spending, reverses 40 years of legal precedent and common-sense safeguards to prevent wealthy individuals from spending limitless amounts to elect candidates of their choosing.

“As if Citizens United wasn’t bad enough, today’s Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC moves us another step closer to the outright legalization of bribery by allowing the wealthiest donors to pour unlimited amounts of money into the campaign coffers of our elected officials.

“Aggregate campaign finance limits provide a crucial safeguard against the corruption that too often plagues our political system. With today’s ruling, how can the public trust that our decision makers, and the policies they set, are not simply for sale to the highest bidder?

“Today’s decision makes it crystal clear that the conservative majority on the Roberts’ court will not address the growing influence that just a handful of wealthy donors have over our elections and our elected officials. Meanwhile, the bipartisan grassroots movement working to take back our democracy and put the power back in the hands of the people continues to grow across our state and our nation.

“United Wisconsin remains committed to overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and now its McCutcheon decision through a constitutional amendment clarifying that money is not speech and corporations do not have the same rights as individual people. These efforts will only be emboldened by today’s disastrous decision in McCutcheon v. FEC.

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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13 Wisconsin cities vote YES to overturning Citizens United

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

4/1/14

Support grows with 41 Wisconsin communities now on record demanding state and federal action to get big money out of elections

MADISON – Referendums calling for the reversal of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC passed by wide margins in 13 Wisconsin communities Tuesday. This brings the total to 41 communities statewide going on record to call for a Constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited corporate spending on elections. United Wisconsin and partners conducted petition drives throughout 2013 to bring these referendums to the spring election ballot.

Citizens United opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending in our elections. Now, Wisconsin voters are standing up to the corrupting influence the flood of special interest money has had on our elections and in our state and national capitols where laws are made,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Tuesday’s victories send a clear message to our elected officials in Madison and in Washington that we demand action to overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy.”

Communities that voted in favor of the referendum on Tuesday included in the Cities of Waukesha, Wauwatosa, Elkhorn, Delavan, Lake Mills and Edgerton, the Villages of Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Waunakee, Belleville and DeForest, and the Towns of Windsor and Waterloo.

To date, 16 states and over 500 municipalities nationwide have voted urging congressional action to address the corruption influence of money in politics, starting with a constitutional amendment reversing Citizens United.

Two bills introduced in the State Legislature, Assembly Joint Resolution 50 (AJR 50) and Senate Joint Resolution 68 (SJR 68), would allow all Wisconsin voters to make their voices head on reversing Citizens United through a statewide advisory referendum. Both bills have stalled, as Republican leadership in both houses have refused to bring the resolutions to a vote.

Citizens United has allowed big money to drown out the voices of ordinary people and created an environment where, too often, our elected officials are sold to the highest bidder,” said Subeck. “To fully restore public trust in our democracy, we must return control of our elections to the people through common sense campaign finance reform, starting with the reversal of Citizens United.”

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CITIZENS UNITED REFERENDUM RESULTS FROM TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2014:
1. City of Waukesha: 69% vote yes
2. City of Wauwatosa: 64% vote yes
3. City of Delavan: 76% vote yes
4. City of Elkhorn: 69% vote yes
5. City of Edgerton: 87% vote yes
6. City of Lake Mills: 73% vote yes
7. Village of Shorewood: 76% vote yes
8. Village of Whitefish Bay: 65% vote yes
9. Village of Belleville: 85% vote yes
10. Village of Waunakee: 79% vote yes
11. Village of DeForest: 70% vote yes
12. Town of Windsor: 70% vote yes
13. Town of Waterloo: 61% vote yes

United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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Gov. Walker Signs Bill Restricting Access to In-Person Absentee Voting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/27/14

SB 324 puts politics ahead of people, aimed at suppressing the vote of seniors, minorities, and working families ahead of November election

MADISON – Today, Governor Scott Walker signed into law Senate Bill 324, which places new limits on in-person absentee voting, including a complete ban on early voting during evenings and weekends.

“Senate Bill 324 is one of many attempts by Republicans over the last 3 years to suppress the votes of those they see as unfavorable to their own candidates and their own political futures,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Governor Walker had the opportunity to put people ahead of politics by standing up for voting rights and vetoing SB 324.”

In-person absentee voting has provided municipalities with the tools they need to ensure every eligible voter has access to the ballot. Municipal Clerks currently have the ability to respond to the unique needs of their own communities and prevent long lines at the polls on Election Day. SB 324 takes vital tools away from our local clerks.

Governor Walker did remove a provision of the bill that limits total hours for in-person absentee voting to 45 hours but maintained the bill’s prohibitions against evening and weekend voting.

“While Walker opted to remove the part of this broken law that limits total in-person absentee hours to 45 per week, that is little consolation to those Wisconsin citizens who cannot take time off work or who lose pay for time taken off during the traditional work week,” said Subeck.

Public outcry against SB 324 has increased in the week since the Republican dominated State Assembly passed the bill last week, including opposition from the editorial boards of major newspapers across the state. A recent poll conducted by Marquette Law School found that 66% of Wisconsinites prefer expanding or maintaining current early voting hours, while only 17% favored a reduction.

“Today, Governor Walker put politics ahead of people by signing SB 324,” Subeck said. “His actions amount to betrayal of trust of the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin seniors, veterans, students, and working people who regularly exercise their right to vote via early absentee ballot.”

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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United Wisconsin urges citizens of 13 Wisconsin communities to Vote YES on overturning Citizens United Tuesday, April 1

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3/26/14

MADISON – After over a year of grassroots petition drives across Wisconsin, United Wisconsin and local partners succeeded in placing 13 local referendum initiatives on the April 1 ballot calling for reversal of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened the floodgates to unlimited special interest spending on elections.

“The unlimited election spending by special interest groups, allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, has drowned out the voices of ordinary people,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Urgent action is needed to restore our democracy to the hands of the people.”

United Wisconsin urges residents in the cities of Waukesha, Wauwatosa, Elkhorn, Delavan, Lake Mills and Edgerton, the villages of Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Waunakee, Belleville and DeForest, and the towns of Windsor and Waterloo to stand up to the corporate special interests that have taken over our democracy by voting “YES” on Tuesday, April 1. A “yes” vote signals support for a Constitutional amendment saying that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as individual people, and that money is not equivalent to speech so limiting monetary contributions to campaigns does not limit free speech.

Click here to find out where you can vote early.

To date, 28 Wisconsin communities have passed similar referendums and resolutions.

“Americans overwhelmingly agree that there is too much money in politics and support reasonable, common-sense limits on campaign spending,” said Subeck. “On April 1, residents of 13 more Wisconsin communities will have the opportunity to go on the record, demanding action be taken at the state and federal levels to stop the corrupting influence unlimited corporate spending has had on our democracy.”

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.cu 4-1 sign

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United Wisconsin PAC Announces Endorsement of Mary Burke for Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/21/14

MADISON – Today, United Wisconsin announced its endorsement of Mary Burke for Governor. Burke is challenging Scott Walker in the gubernatorial election on November 4, 2014.

“Mary Burke is the clear choice to serve as Wisconsin’s next Governor,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Burke will stand up for Wisconsin’s progressive values of ensuring every child has access to the highest quality public education and every Wisconsinite has access to affordable health care. She will put Wisconsin back to work, renewing the promise of prosperity for a strong middle class.”

United Wisconsin praised Burke’s proven track record as a job creator in the private sector and for her stance on issues of importance to working families across the state. Early in her campaign, Burke has already gone on record in support of raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage, redirecting taxpayer funds away from unaccountable private voucher schools and back to our public schools, and open and transparent government.

“Burke’s candidacy provides a stark contrast to the extreme right-wing agenda of current Governor Scott Walker. Walker’s failed policies have crippled Wisconsin’s economy and caused unprecedented divisiveness in our state,” said Subeck. “Mary Burke is exactly the kind of strong and effective leader we need to move Wisconsin forward again. United Wisconsin is ready to work to elect Mary Burke as our state’s next Governor.”

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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Statement on Assembly Passage of SB 324

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3/21/14

Madison – United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck released the following statement in response to State Assembly passage on a party-line vote of SB 324. SB 324 places new limits on in-person absentee voting, including a complete ban on early voting during evenings and weekends. The bill has already passed the State Senate and now heads to Governor Walker’s desk for his signature.

“The Republican majority in the State Legislature is more concerned with winning the next election than protecting the rights of Wisconsin’s citizens. SB 324 is just the latest attack on the right to vote and the latest move by Republicans to suppress the votes of those they see as unfavorable to their own candidacies.

It is shameful that in the final day of the legislative session, the GOP majority used their power to ram through this politically motivated attack on the rights of the very citizens they were elected to represent. Meanwhile, Republicans ignored their own promises to focus on job creation and improving Wisconsin’s economy.

Perhaps a number of Democratic legislators said it best as they urged Republicans to ‘fix problems’ rather than ‘fix elections.’

Governor Walker should veto SB 324. Anything else would be a betrayal of trust of the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin seniors, veterans, students, and working people who regularly exercise their right to vote via early absentee ballot.”

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United Wisconsin is an independent, grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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Republicans in State Senate Refuse to Consider Non-Partisan Redistricting Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3/12/14

On the heels of passing a slew of measures to suppress ballot access for tens of thousands of students, senior citizens, and low-income voters, Republican majority in State Senate rejects bill for fair redistricting

Madison – Today, Republicans in the State Senate rejected a Democratic attempt to pull SB 163, a bill that would take redistricting out of partisan hands by giving responsibility for drawing new maps every 10 years to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, to a floor vote. This refusal to accept a plan that would promote fairer and more competitive elections comes on the heels of Senate passage of several anti-voting bills during the last two days.

“Shame on the Republican majority in the State Senate for refusing to even consider a fairer non-partisan redistricting plan,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “After passing a slew of bills aimed squarely at suppressing the votes of tens of thousands of students, senior citizens, and low-income voters, Republicans have again showed their true stripes with their refusal to take up SB 163.”

SB 163 would end the current practice which gives politicians the power to carve out “safe” districts for their party, thus bringing more competition to our elections and ensuring the voters’ voices are not marginalized for partisan ends. The bill’s authors recently tested SB 163’s impact with hypothetical maps drawn by the Legislative Reference Bureau. These test-maps would have more than doubled the number of competitive State Assembly seats in play. Maps drawn of State Senate districts showed a similar result.

“Republicans in the State Legislature have refused to even hold public hearings on redistricting reform, let alone hold a vote on the issue,” said Subeck. “Today’s refusal to consider SB 163, coupled with passage of numerous Republican bills creating new roadblocks for citizens exercising their right to vote, only reinforces the willingness of the GOP in Wisconsin to put their own political gain ahead of the needs and desires of the people they were elected to represent.”

United Wisconsin is an independent grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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With Election Looming, Republican Senate Rams through Voter Suppression, Pay-to-Play Bills in Final Days of Legislative Session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/12/14

MADISON – Meeting last night and this morning, the Republican controlled State Senate rammed through a series of politically-motivated attacks on the fundamental right to vote in Wisconsin and an expansion of the power of special interest lobbyists to funnel campaign contributions to candidates and elected officials.

“The actions taken by Senate Republicans during these final days of the legislative session demonstrate just how far they’re willing to go to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters ahead of the November election and increase the power of the special interests who bankroll their right wing agenda,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. ”Instead of taking up positive, pro-voter legislation to strengthen access to voting in Wisconsin, Republicans have used their majority-power to ram through a series of politically-motivated attacks on fundamental voting rights.”

Anti-voter legislation passed by the Republican majority in the State Senate this week included:

• SB 267 – adding new obstacles to voter registration
• SB 324 – shortening the hours and days of in-person absentee voting
• SB 655 – expanding the power of lobbyists to funnel campaign contributions to candidates by moving the date lobbyists may begin making contributions from June 1st to April 15th
• AB 202 – establishing new guidelines for election observers, opening the door to voter intimidation
• AB 396 – making it more challenging for municipal clerks to assist individuals in residential facilities with absentee voting

These votes come as Governor Scott Walker signaled Tuesday his plan to call for a rare special session of the State Legislature to take up Wisconsin’s unconstitutional photo ID law. The law, currently before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and a federal court, would require all voters in Wisconsin to provide a government-issued photo ID card to exercise their right to vote.

“At a time when our state is still struggling economically, why are Republicans in the State Senate spending the final days of the legislative session limiting our freedom by denying Wisconsin citizens the right to vote? Instead they should be focusing their efforts on creating jobs and putting Wisconsin back to work,” said Subeck. “This latest round of attacks on ballot access, coupled with the impending resurrection of the Wisconsin’s unconstitutional voter ID law leaves Wisconsinites wondering what Scott Walker and his Republicans allies won’t do to rig the November election in their favor.”

 

United Wisconsin is an independent grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce behind last-minute GOP push to increase power of lobbyists in Wisconsin

United Wisconsin calls on state Senate to reject “pay-to-play” bill SB 655

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  3/10/14

MADISON – With a vote looming in the State Senate Tuesday Senate Bill 655 (SB 655) – a bill being fast-tracked in the final days of the legislative session that expands the time period during which lobbyists can provide contributions to political candidates and elected officials, a review by United Wisconsin has revealed that registered lobbyists for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) have made more than $27,000 in campaign contributions during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. WMC is the state’s largest big business lobbying group and the lead organization lobbying in favor of SB 655. WMC lobbyists stand to gain greater access and influence over elected officials with the passage of SB 655.

Contact your state Senator NOW and tell them to vote NO on SB-655!

“In this last-minute rush to pass SB 655, WMC lobbyists and their Republican allies in Madison are placing a giant ‘for sale’ sign on our State Legislature,” said United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck. “Expanding the power of special interest lobbying groups like Wisconsin Manufacturer’s Commerce to now funnel campaign donations to candidates while the state legislature is still in session amounts to a pay-to-play style of politics that has no place in Wisconsin government.”

Under current state law, lobbyists are allowed to make personal contributions to candidates between June 1st and Election Day. SB-655 will push back this date to April 15th, overlapping with legislative sessions traditionally scheduled into April and May.

According to the analysis conducted by United Wisconsin, WMC lobbyists made $16,510.85 in campaign contributions during the 2010 election cycle and $10,625 during the 2012 cycle. Not included in these figures were additional contributions from WMC staff not registered as lobbyists.

WMC is one of only two organizations registered with the Government Accountability Board in favor of SB 655, and a WMC lobbyist testified in favor of the bill at a public hearing last Wednesday.

“The last thing the voters of Wisconsin want from our elected officials is for them to tighten the grip big lobbyists have over our elected officials and the legislative process,” Subeck said. “With faith in government already at an historic low, SB 655 will only further erode any trust the public has left in our elected officials to put their constituents’ interests ahead of the interests of big money campaign contributors. The State Senate should reject SB 655 to prevent any further erosion of the public trust.”

Contact your state Senator NOW and tell them to vote NO on SB-655!

United Wisconsin is an independent grassroots organization of citizens restoring the Wisconsin tradition of democracy in action. For more information, visit our website at www.unitedwisconsin.com.

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